The vertical structure of the atmosphere

3.1. Vertical distribution of temperature and greenhouse gases

3.1.1. Typical temperature profile

3.1.2. Atmospheric layers

3.2. The relationship between pressure and density: Hydrostatic balance

3.3. Vertical structure of pressure and density

3.3.1. Isothermal atmosphere

3.3.2. Non-isothermal atmosphere

3.3.3. Density

3.4. Further reading

3.5. Problems

In this chapter we discuss the observed vertical distribution of temperature, water vapor, and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The observed temperature distribution is compared to the radiative equilibrium profile discussed in Chapter 2. We go on to calculate the implied distribution of pressure and density, assuming the atmosphere to be in hydrostatic balance, and compare with observations. We discover that the atmosphere does not have a distinct top. Rather, the density and pressure decay with height by a factor of e every 7-8 km.

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