Why do we study the ATMOSPHERE?
The atmosphere is shared by every person on this Earth. When one person (or group or nation) affects the atmosphere, it affects all of us. Without the atmosphere, we would find it very hard to survive. Humans can last weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without air. We also consume it at a higher rate: humans breathe the equivalent of 13 kg of air each day, compared with eating 2.4 kg of food and drinking 1 kg of liquid. Our daily lives are also influenced by the atmosphere. How warm it is or whether it's raining determine what kind of clothing we wear and what kind of activities we participate in. Local climates affect what kind of houses we build.
We are also protected by the atmosphere. It acts as a huge blanket, keeping the Earth warmer than it would be without the atmosphere. This is known as the greenhouse effect. (Without the atmosphere, the average temperature on Earth would be below freezing!) The atmosphere also protects living things on Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. A thin layer of gas called ozone high up in the atmosphere filters out these dangerous rays.
The atmosphere also helps to sustain life of Earth. It provides oxygen for humans and animals to breathe, and carbon dioxide for plants. Through the hydrological (precipitation) cycle, plants and animals receive the water they need to survive.
The atmosphere can also affect us in negative ways. Most of the natural catastrophes that occur are due to phenomena in the atmosphere. Things like hurricanes, lightning and thunderstorms, hail, flooding, and tornadoes. Severe consequences can also occur when humans pollute the atmosphere, such as creating smog or destroying ozone. These kinds of things can cause illnesses and even cancer.
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