About 19 percent of the earth’s total greenhouse gases are contained in the stratosphere. The upper crust of the stratosphere contains 90% of the ozone layer. This ozone layer is critical for man’s survival, as well as the survival of life on Earth, since it absorbs harmful UV radiation from the sun.

Pritish Kumar Halder explains the meaning of Stratosphere, what function it performs and its different characteristics.

The stratosphere is a layer of extremely stratified air that rises 40 kilometres above the tropopause and comprises about 20% of the atmosphere’s mass. A two-step reactive mechanism produces ozone in the stratosphere naturally. Solar ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) separates an oxygen molecule into two different oxygen atoms in the first step. Three oxygen molecules combine with sunlight to form two ozone molecules in the overall process.


What is the Stratosphere Layer?

The stratosphere is a layer of the atmosphere that surrounds the Earth. As it absorbs energy from incoming ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, ozone, an uncommon form of oxygen molecule that is relatively abundant in the stratosphere, heats this layer.

From the tip of the troposphere to about 50 kilometres (31 miles) above the ground, the stratosphere exists. The stratosphere is home to the notorious ozone layer. This layer’s ozone molecules absorb high-energy ultraviolet (UV) light from the Sun and transform it to heat.

It’s not a safe idea to be in the stratosphere. To begin with, the amount of ozone in the stratosphere, which protects us from biologically harmful solar ultraviolet radiation, is so strong that the air itself is toxic. Second, even this poisonous air is much too thin to allow normal breathing.

Main Functions of the Stratosphere

The very critical ozone layer is found in the stratosphere. The ozone layer protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV). The ozone layer, in fact, absorbs the majority of the UV radiation that the sun sends our way. Under this layer of security, life as we know it will be impossible.

The stratosphere is located above the troposphere and below the mesosphere. “Strat” means layer. Our atmosphere’s layer has its own collection of layers. Since there are no hurricanes or noise to mix the air, the cold, heavy air is at the bottom and the humid, light air is at the top. The layers in the troposphere, where we live, function in the opposite way.

The stratosphere is characterized by a rise in temperature with altitude; its resistance to vertical mixing indicates that it is stratified. Temperatures in the stratosphere rise with altitude; the stratosphere’s top temperature is around 270 K.

Characteristics of Stratosphere

The stratosphere is very dry, with very little water vapour in the air. As a result, this layer has few clouds; almost all clouds form in the lower, more humid troposphere. The exception is polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs). In the winter, PSCs can be found in the lower stratosphere near the poles.

The characteristics of stratosphere are :-

Stratosphere lies between troposphere and mesosphere – The stratosphere is a layer of the atmosphere that stretches from the tip of the troposphere to about 50 kilometres (31 miles) above the earth. Because of the increasing temperature trend with altitude, air in the stratosphere lacks the instability and up drafts that characterize the troposphere below.

Stratosphere extends up to 50 km in earth’s atmosphere – The stratosphere rises to a height of 50 kilometres (31 miles) above the troposphere. This layer contains the ozone layer, which absorbs and scatters solar ultraviolet radiation. The thermosphere begins just above the mesosphere and rises to a height of 600 kilometres (372 miles).

Stratosphere helps in absorbing the UV rays – Three oxygen atoms are combined into a single molecule to form ozone (O3). It’s a gas that forms naturally in the stratosphere and absorbs a lot of UV radiation. However, when stratospheric ozone levels fall, UV radiation is allowed to pass through, resulting in increased exposure at the Earth’s surface.

Do planes fly in the stratosphere?

To avoid the turbulence that is normal in the troposphere below, commercial jet aircraft travel in the lower stratosphere. The stratosphere is very dry, with very little water vapour in the air. Jet aircraft and weather balloons achieve their highest operating altitudes in the stratosphere as a result of this.


Why is there no weather in the stratosphere?

In the stratosphere, there is no atmosphere. The ozone layer is found in the stratosphere, which comprises over 15% of the total mass of the atmosphere. At that altitude, atmospheric convection ceases because rising cloudy air parcels are no longer warmer than their surroundings, owing to the comparatively warm stratospheric air.