Skip to main content
Select Source:

stratosphere

stratosphere (străt´əsfēr), second lowest layer of the earth's atmosphere. The level from which it extends outward varies with latitude; it begins c.51/2 mi (9 km) above the poles, c.6 or 7 mi (c.10 or 11 km) in the middle latitudes, and c.10 mi (16 km) at the equator, and extends outward c.20 mi (32 km). It is a zone of dry, thin air, cold and clear, with a horizontal temperature gradient, that, in its lower level, is the reverse of that near the earth's surface. In polar regions the temperature is -40°F to -50°F (-40°C to -46°C), but near the equator it ranges from -80°F to below -100°F (-62°C to below -74°C); in the middle latitudes it remains steady at about -67°F (-55°C).

The stratified variations in temperature were deduced from the behavior of sound waves transmitted through the atmosphere, which travel faster in warm air than in cold air. Weather balloons carrying electronic equipment are launched to ascertain conditions in the stratosphere; information on this atmospheric layer is also acquired from earth-orbiting satellites.

Within the stratosphere at altitudes of 12 to 30 mi (19–48 km) is the ozone layer. Its capacity to intercept most of the sun's ultraviolet rays is fundamental to the maintenance of life on the earth. Without this filtering effect, the sun's full radiation would destroy animal tissue, but sufficient ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth to support the activation of vitamin D in humans. Elevated temperatures found in the ozone layer result from its absorption of radiant energy.

Measurements of Antarctica's ozone layer have registered a consistent seasonal "hole," or thinning, in the layer above the South Pole since 1985, and since then similar thinnings have been found over other areas of the world. There is evidence that the ozone is being broken down by chlorine atoms that are released when sunlight breaks up substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Montreal Protocol and its amendments now ban these substances and have set time limits on the production of others that may also affect the ozone layer.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stratosphere." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stratosphere." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stratosphere

"stratosphere." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stratosphere

stratosphere

stratosphere The atmospheric layer above the troposphere, which extends on average from about 10 to 50 km above the Earth's surface. The stratosphere is a major stable layer whose base is marked by the tropopause, and where temperatures overall average approximately −60°C. Temperature in the lower stratosphere is isothermal but increases markedly in the upper part, to reach a maximum of about 0°C at the stratopause. High stratospheric temperatures result from absorption of ultraviolet radiation (0.20–0.32 μm wavelengths) by ozone near the stratopause; slight vertical mixing causes some of the ozone to move downwards and it becomes concentrated at 15–30 km. Owing to the very low air density, even the small amount of ozone concentrated in the upper stratosphere is extremely effective in absorbing radiation, thus giving high temperatures at 50 km. The isothermal condition at the base of the stratospheric inversion layer creates stability, which generally limits vertical extensions of cloud and leads to the lateral spreading of high cumulonimbus cloud with characteristic anvil heads.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere-0

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved July 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere-0

stratosphere

stratosphere The atmospheric layer above the troposphere, which extends on average from about 10 to 50 km above the Earth's surface. The stratosphere is a major stable layer whose base is marked by the tropopause, and where temperatures overall average approximately −60 °C. Temperature in the lower stratosphere is isothermal but increases markedly in the upper part, to reach a maximum of about 0 °C at the stratopause. High stratospheric temperatures result from absorption of ultraviolet radiation (0.20–0.32 μm wavelengths) by ozone concentrated at 15–30 km. Due to the very low air density, even the small amount of ozone concentrated in the upper stratosphere is extremely effective in absorbing radiation, thus giving high temperatures at 50 km. The isothermal condition at the base of the stratospheric inversion layer creates stability, which generally limits vertical extensions of cloud and leads to the lateral spreading of high cumulonimbus cloud with characteristic anvil heads. See also ATMOSPHERIC STRUCTURE.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved July 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere

stratosphere

strat·o·sphere / ˈstratəˌsfi(ə)r/ • n. the layer of the earth's atmosphere above the troposphere, extending to about 50 km above the earth's surface (the lower boundary of the mesosphere). ∎ fig. the very highest levels of a profession or other sphere, or of prices or other quantities: her next big campaign launched her into the fashion stratosphere. DERIVATIVES: strat·o·spher·ic / ˌstratəˈsfi(ə)rik; -ˈsferik/ adj.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stratosphere." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stratosphere." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere-0

"stratosphere." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved July 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere-0

stratosphere

stratosphere The layer of the earth's atmosphere that lies above the troposphere and extends to about 50 km above the earth's surface. The temperature within the stratosphere remains fairly constant but can rise in the upper regions of this layer due to absorption of ultraviolet radiation by ozone. See ozone layer.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere-1

"stratosphere." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved July 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere-1

stratosphere

stratosphere Section of the Earth's atmosphere between the troposphere and the higher mesosphere. It is c.40km (25mi) thick, and for half this distance the temperature remains fairly constant. The stratosphere contains most of the atmosphere's ozone.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stratosphere." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stratosphere." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stratosphere-0

"stratosphere." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stratosphere-0

stratosphere

stratosphereGambia, ZambiaArabia, labia, SwabiaLibya, Namibia, tibia •euphorbia •agoraphobia, claustrophobia, homophobia, hydrophobia, phobia, technophobia, xenophobia, Zenobia •Nubia • rootbeer • cumbia •Colombia, Columbia •exurbia, Serbia, suburbia •Wiltshire • Flintshire •gaillardia, Nadia, tachycardia •steadier • compendia •Acadia, Arcadia, nadir, stadia •reindeer •acedia, encyclopedia, media, multimedia •Lydia, Numidia •India • belvedere • Claudia •Cambodia, odea, plasmodia, podia, roe-deer •Mafia, raffia, tafia •Philadelphia • hemisphere •planisphere • Montgolfier • Sofia •ecosphere • biosphere • atmosphere •thermosphere • ionosphere •stratosphere • headgear • switchgear •logia • nemesia • menhir

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stratosphere." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stratosphere." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere

"stratosphere." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stratosphere