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48

(photograph credit: Efram Goldberg) [Note: left-most ampule is cooled to -196°C and covered by a white layer of frost.] $NO_2$ is a good example of a colorful gas. $N_2O_4$ (colorless) exists in equillibrium with $NO_2$. At lower temperature (left in Wikipedia photo), $N_2O_4$ is favored, while at higher temperature $NO_2$ is favored. For a gas to have ...


47

The atmosphere rotates along with the Earth for the same reason you do. Force isn't needed to make something go. That's a basic law of physics - that a thing that's moving will just keep moving if there's no force on it. Force is needed either to make something change its speed, or to make its motion point in a new direction. A force can do both or just ...


41

Clean dry air lets sunlight through; dirty moist air scatters it. Aerosols (small air borne particulate contamination) are more prominent near areas of dense population - due to power plants, cars, fires, ... These particles form nucleation sites for moisture - and these small water drops become very effective scatterers of sunlight. The humidity is high ...


35

First of all, gas molecules are not invisible. There are plenty of elements whose gaseous state is quite colored, but these (iodine, e.g.) are in such rare amounts in the atmosphere that the net effect is not discernable to the eye. Next, if you Google for "atmospheric transmission curves," you'll see all sorts of spectral absorption going on, again at ...


34

Have a look at the Wikipedia article on raindrop formation. You'll also find lots of articles on raindrop formation and growth by Googling raindrop formation or something like that. Raindrops do coalesce, but they also fragment, and the eventual size is a balance of the two processes. The fragmentation occurs because of the forces from turbulent air flow. ...


31

like even when light gets on the moon why does the space appears dark from the moon? For the same reason it appears dark from the Earth (when flying at an altitude of 80,000 feet or so): Image credit: View from the SR-71 Blackbird. The fact is, we can't 'see space' from the Earth's surface during the day because the atmosphere is 'in the way'- the ...


29

Yes, most certainly, and meteorologists call this kind of rain Virga (see Wikipedia page of the same name). These are the salient and more interesting points of the Wiki article: Often it is falling ice crystals that undergo compressional heating as the fall from greater heights, where the pressure is very low; It is very common in desert and temperate ...


28

The atmosphere of the Earth is mainly composed of nitrogen (N2, 78%) and oxygen (O2, 21%) molecules, which together make up about 99% of its total volume. The remaining 1% contains all sorts of other stuff like argon, water and carbon dioxide, but let's ignore those for now. As you probably know, the oxygen we breathe is produced by plants from water and ...


20

According to Opacity of an Ionized Gas, "light from regions [of the sun] where the pressure is greater than 0.01 atm. is cut off completely, so that all we see comes from a spherical shell of rarefied gas". There is no real surface of the Sun. Instead, the density and pressure of gas/plasma progressively increase from an infinitesimal value far from the ...


19

As you have probably noticed, the moon is tidally locked with the earth so that we always see the same side. You can look up in the sky and watch sunlight move across the moon's face. From the surface of the moon this change in illumination would look just like the day/night cycle on Earth ... except that it's roughly a month long. Until the advent of radar ...


17

Yes, helium can leave the Earth, and yes, we will run out of helium, but because of different reasons. When you buy a helium balloon and its contents get released, this helium goes into the atmosphere. It isn't gone, and it could in principle be purified out of normal air. However, the total amount of helium in the atmosphere is so small it is ...


16

Friction AKA wind resistance. You must have tried to stand in a strong wind or stuck you hand out the window of a traveling vehicle. From that you can feel the force that moving air exerts on objects in its way, and by Newton's law of reaction things in the way exert an equal force tending to move the air up to speed with the ground near it. Even if the ...


15

There are at least two reasons: the air layer adjacent to the Earth surface is dragged with it (being at rest with it). air viscosity -- it could be thought as a friction between different air layers. Upper layers are carried along by underlying layers. If the air were to stop suddenly it would result in ~1500 km/h wind speed. For comparison Hurricane ...


15

I doubt if anyone has come up with a complete explanation, but some laboratory simulations have created similar patterns. They happen if the central and surrounding areas in a flat, circular disk of fluid have different velocities. Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society covers it at this site. She also explains how other patterns (triangles & ...


14

If you were to surround the atmosphere by an adiabatic envelope and allow it to come to equilibrium, it probably would settle into such a state. However, the atmosphere is not a static place. It is actively mixed due to heating of the ground by the sun, and by cooling of the upper atmosphere by radiation into space. This makes the surface air less dense than ...


12

Some gases actually are visible (nitrogen dioxide for instance). The air is invisible, because its molecules don't absorb the visible light. These molecules simply don't have useful vibration modes available to absorb these wavelengths, or the electrons in their orbitals can't utilize the frequencies of visible light to move to higher orbital (the energy ...


12

As has been said by many answers; all gases aren't colourless, for example chlorine gas is a pale yellow; which is a good things as its very dangerous. So the gases in our atmosphere are colourless. But this is completely the wrong way round to look at it. If our eyes operated at frequencies that were blocked by gases in the atmosphere they wouldn't work ...


11

Water starts to fall from the clouds when the drop size reaches a critical point which depends on a lot of factors such as the strength of upward currents, but also air density and gravity acceleration. When the drops leave the cloud no more collisions take place and their size is fixed. To create a water stream we need to concentrate water from a large ...


11

You are likety to be directly measuring the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere. The fact that your cursory measurements seem to be correlated with the air temperature around you supports this idea: the measurement is higher in the day because the Earth itself is hotter and radiating back into space more powerfully. Greenhouse gasses are thus absorbing some ...


10

It's actually a surprisingly straightforward differential equation. If you assume that the acceleration due to gravity $g$ doesn't change with altitude (a good approximation if the atmosphere is thin compared to the radius of the earth), Bernoulli's relation tells you the change in the pressure $P$ with height $h$: $$ \frac{dP}{dh} = -\rho g$$ Meanwhile the ...


10

If we accept that the system (the Earth's atmosphere in this case) is chaotic and adopt the usual definitions of a chaotic system, e.g. one by Edward Lorenz Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future. we immediately see the answer to your question. The small (impossible to ...


9

I can't point to a definitive reference, but my recollection is that thunderstorms are associated with a lower layer of warm air rising rapidly through an upper layer of cold air. It's the rapid vertical transport that generates the static charge and hence the lightening. In winter it's rare to get these atmospheric conditions. So it's not that there's ...


9

The ionized particles from mainly solar wind are caught and trapped by Earth magnetic field, which behaves like a magnetic bottle. (The region in which ions are trapped is called Van Allen radiation belts.) This trap is weaker in the polar regions, and there the ions are mainly released into the denser parts of atmosphere. There they collide with air ...


8

Temperature generally gets cooler as you go higher in altitude (which is one reason why you have snow on mountain peaks long after it has melted away in the foothills). Hail develops in thunderstorms. A thunderstorm ~BY DEFINITION~ is a storm which has developed through the freezing layer. So think about this: If you see lightning or hear thunder from ...


8

All bodies above absolute-zero emit some radiation. This is "black-body" radiation and it can be correlated to temperature using the Stefan-Boltzmann law. Your infrared thermometer uses this to calculate the temperature by measuring this radiation. The temperature you measure for the sky is the radiation of an equivalent blackbody at -2°C. This is sort of ...


7

From the Wikipedia article:(My emphasis) Some people thought that the ozone hole should be above the sources of CFCs. However, CFCs are well mixed globally in the troposphere and the stratosphere. The reason for occurrence of the ozone hole above Antarctica is not because there are more CFCs concentrated but because the low temperatures help form polar ...


7

This is probably not a valid stack-exchange question since the answer is available online just by doing a Google search, but the answer is gravity. That's why gas giants are largely gaseous, and the tiny Moon has virtually no atmosphere, and the Earth is somewhere in between.


7

According to Ahrens R. The bases of cumulus cloud can be estimated quite easily when the surface air temperature and dew point are known. If the air is not too windy, we can assume that entrainment of air will not change the characteristics of a rising thermal. Since the rising air cools at the dry adiabatic rate of about 10°C per 1000 m, and ...


6

Analysis for Jesus's molecule usage: Our breathing rate changes a lot, but on average its about 1 breath every five seconds, or 12 breaths a minute, or 720 breaths an hour, or 17280 breaths a day or 6,307,200 breaths a year, and if we live for 32 years that gives us 201,830,400 breaths in his lifetime. How many atoms? multiply 2.02e8 total ...



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