These worksheets look at how carbon, a vital element to living things, is recycled naturally.

Our planet (Earth) has a jacket like cover over it. The jacket covers the entire planet with several layers of gases. It is mostly made up of nitrogen and oxygen, but there are also good amounts of argon, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. These layers are held in place by gravity. These layers of gases do many different things to help living things on the surface of the Earth. It helps keep us warm and contributes to our supply of oxygen. It also absorbs a good portion of the ultraviolet (UV) rays coming from the sun. If the UV rays were not absorbed by our atmosphere, it would have very harmful effects for any creatures that are exposed to sunlight regularly. The atmosphere is where weather develops as it makes its way land and our oceans. The atmosphere is composed of six distinct layers. Each layer gets thinner as you travel from the bottom to outer space. There is no clear boundary between outer space and atmosphere.

This series of worksheets examines the function and composition of each of the layers of Earth's atmosphere. Students will also explore the composition of each of the gases found in these layers. We take some time to look at how human activities are leading to destruction and composition of these gaseous layers. We go a step further from there and examine how this is impacting life on Earth in the forms of weather, temperature, and pressure changes.

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Print Atmosphere Worksheets

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Earth's Atmosphere

The Earth is surrounded by a layer of gases that we call its atmosphere. The atmosphere consists mainly of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%).

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QUESTIONS: Earth's Atmosphere

Weather takes place in the troposphere. Weather is the temporary state of the atmosphere at any given time and place, and includes the combination of temperature, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, and wind.

The Exosphere

The exosphere contains the lightest gases in the atmosphere. Hydrogen is dispersed throughout the exosphere.

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QUESTIONS: The Exosphere

In order for a rocket to get out of the Earth's atmosphere and into outer space, it has to have enough power to get out of the Earth's exosphere.

The Thermosphere

Because the thermosphere absorbs most of the X-ray and UV radiation from the Sun, it sometimes gets hotter and expands when the Sun is very active emitting radiation.

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Question Set: The Thermosphere

Many satellites orbiting the Earth travel in the thermosphere. The changes in the density of the gases caused by the intermittent expansion of the thermosphere create a force on the motion of the satellites called drag.

The Mesosphere

The mesosphere is about 22 miles thick. Though these is more gas in the mesosphere than there is in the thermosphere, there is still not enough to be able to breathe.

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Question Set: The Mesosphere

The mesosphere is the layer of the Earth's surface at which most meteors burn up while entering the lower layers.

The Stratosphere

The prefix "strat" means layer. The stratosphere is so named because it has its own set of layers. Since there is no turbulence in the air here to keep the air mixed up, the coldest, heaviest air sits at the bottom of the stratosphere and the warmest, lightest air sits at the top.

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Question Set: The Stratosphere

There is hardly any water vapor in the stratosphere, so the air is very dry here. Since there is so little water vapor, there are also no clouds in the stratosphere.

Questions: The Troposphere

Weather is sometimes referred to as atmospheric conditions, but the atmosphere and weather are not the same. Weather is the temporary state of the atmosphere at any given time and place, and includes the combination of temperature, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, wind, etc.

The Ozone Layer

Ozone is a particular kind of oxygen molecule. What we call the ozone layer is a special layer of the stratosphere that helps to protect Earth from the Sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

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The Ozone Layer Question Series

Greenhouse gases, which are certain gases in the Earth's atmosphere, like carbon, are what make Earth habitable. However, we have burned so many fossil fuels and released so much carbon back into the atmosphere, there is more carbon in the Earth's atmosphere today than there has been in 420,000 years.

Gases that Compose It

The remaining 1% is made up of much smaller amounts of many other gases, including argon, carbon dioxide, neon, helium, and hydrogen. However these gases don't exist in the same proportions or in the same mixture or density everywhere in the atmosphere.

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Question Set: Gases that Compose It

In the next layer closest to Earth, the mesosphere, there is more gas than there is in the thermosphere, but there is still not enough to be able to breathe.

Global Warming

Scientists are concerned about global warming because even though average temperatures may have only risen a few degrees, even a few degrees can have a huge impact on the environment.

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Global Warming Questions

Animals that are not acclimated to higher temperatures may begin to migrate in search of cooler areas.

The Ionosphere and the Magnetosphere

The magnetosphere arises as a result of solar wind interacting with Earth’s magnetic field. The boundary between the solar winds in outer space and Earth’s magnetic field is called the magnetopause.

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The Ionosphere and the Magnetosphere Questions

The size of the ionosphere and the magnetosphere expands or contracts depending on how much energy it absorbs from the sun.