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The Stratosphere-Atmosphere layer

An avid camper and hiker as well as writer and astronomy lover, Jose Juan Gutierrez has always been inspired by the sky

The Stratosphere

The Stratosphere-Second Layer of the Atmosphere

The stratosphere is the second layer of the atmosphere that is situated above the troposphere and below the mesosphere. The average altitude of this layer starts at about 10 km (6.2 miles) and ends at about 50 km (31 miles) above the earth´s surface, where it transitions into the mesosphere. However, this altitude may vary at other latitudes and also during seasons, as the lower boundary-the tropopause-may be situated at 20 km (12 miles) at the equator and as low as 7 km (4 miles) at the poles.

Nearly 20% of the atmosphere´s mass is contained within the stratosphere. This layer´s temperature increases with altitude, with lower temperatures at its bottom-tropopause and warmer ones on its top-the stratopause. This increase of temperature with altitude is due to the absorption of UV rays by the ozone layer, which accounts to about 90% of all the ozone found in the atmosphere.

The Ozone Layer

This layer is found at about 15 to 35 km (9 to 22 miles) above the earth's surface, just above the tropopause. This is the region where most of the sun's ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by ozone O3, which although in small concentrations in the stratosphere- compared to other gases- are good enough to prevent harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the surface of the earth.

The Tropopause

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The tropopause

This layer marks the transition between the troposphere and the stratosphere. It lies at approximately 17 km (11 miles) above the equator and at about 9 km ( 5.6 miles) at the poles. In this layer, the air stops being cool and becomes dry and thin. Due that weather perturbations are rare, commercial aircraft use this region during long flights.

Brewer Dobson Circulation its an atmospheric circulation pattern of air rising at the tropics and moving to the poles where it descends, explaining the distribution of ozone and water vapor.

Greenhouse Gases

These gases are those that are transparent - let the sun´s rays enter the lower atmosphere but do not let the rays escape into outer space ,as they are partially opaque to infrared radiation coming from the surface of the earth. Ozone (O3)- a greenhouse gas mostly present in the stratosphere- is not opaque to solar radiation.

Other gases present in the stratosphere include; nitrogen oxides, nitric acid, sulphuric acid, halogen oxides and traces of other gases.


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. It lies in between the troposphere and the mesosphere
    • Tropopause
    • Thermosphere
    • Stratosphere
  2. Commercial flights use it for flying
    • Mesosphere
    • Tropopause
    • Troposphere
  3. It' a gas that's more abundant in the stratosphere than in the whole atmosphere
    • Oxigen
    • Nitrogen
    • Ozone

Answer Key

  1. Stratosphere
  2. Tropopause
  3. Ozone

© 2022 Jose Juan Gutierrez

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