Startseite » World economy & globalization » How many and what kind of layers does the atmosphere have?

How many and what kind of layers does the atmosphere have? Logo

There is an envelope of air and gases around our earth. This is also called the atmosphere. It mainly consists of oxygen and nitrogen. We humans and many animals need oxygen to breathe and survive.
The atmosphere consists of five layers. Each of these layers has its own characteristics and benefits the earth in different ways.

The troposphere

The first and thinnest layer around our earth is the troposphere. It goes up to 17 kilometers in height. About 85 percent of the total air mass collects here. This enables us humans to breathe and survive. All weather processes also take place in this shift. The higher you go in the troposphere, the colder it gets. Temperatures at the outermost limit of this layer can reach minus 80 degrees Celsius. The temperature decreases by around 6.5 degrees Celsius per kilometer of altitude.

The stratosphere

The second layer is the stratosphere. It ranges from 16 kilometers to 50 kilometers in height. In this layer it becomes warmer again and no longer cold. The ozone layer is also located in the stratosphere. This protects us humans on earth from dangerous radiation. It also converts the ultraviolet rays from sunlight into heat. These rays are also known as UV rays. As a result of this warmth, the temperatures rise from minus 80 degrees Celsius to down to zero degrees Celsius again.


The mesosphere is located at a height of 50 to 85 kilometers. Since there is hardly any ozone left in this layer, the temperatures drop again. It can reach minus 100 degrees Celsius here. This makes the mesosphere the coldest layer in our atmosphere. In this layer happens what we perceive as falling stars on earth. When dust particles and smaller boulders enter the mesosphere from space, they burn up because of the low temperatures here. Without this braking layer, these chunks would fall to earth.


The fourth layer of the earth’s atmosphere is the thermosphere. It is located between 85 and 500 kilometers from Earth. Space shuttles and the International Space Station (ISS) are located in this layer. This orbits the earth at an altitude of 350 kilometers. The temperatures in this layer rise to over 1,700 degrees Celsius.


The ionosphere is part of the mesosphere and the thermosphere. The ion content in this layer is very high, which means that radio waves and light are reflected. We perceive these reflections on Earth in the polar regions as polar lights.


The outermost layer of our atmosphere is the exosphere. It begins at an altitude of about 500 kilometers and extends up to 10,000 kilometers in height. This layer does not have a precise limit, as the gravity here becomes weaker and weaker. As a result, gas molecules can no longer be held at some point and flow into space.