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Blue skies above the Mackenzie Basin

Air Facts

Dry air is primarily made up of nitrogen (78.09%) oxygen (20.95%). The remaining 1% is made up of argon (0.93%), carbon dioxide (0.039% as of 2010) and other trace gases (0.003%). Water vapor (water in its gaseous state) is also present in the atmosphere in varying amounts, by up to 2%.


Definition of Air: The invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen.

from Oxford Dictionary


The Earth's atmosphere is more than just the air we breathe. It's also a buffer that keeps us from being peppered by meteorites, a screen against deadly radiation, and the reason radio waves can be bounced for long distances around the planet. 

The air that accomplishes all of this is composed of five major layers. 

The lowest is the troposphere, which is the layer that provides most of our weather. It contains about four-fifths of the Earth's air, but extends only to a height of about 11 miles (17 kilometers) at the Equator and somewhat less at the Poles. 

The name comes from a Greek word that refers to mixing. And mixing is exactly what happens within the troposphere, as warm air rises to form clouds, rain falls, and winds stir the lands below. Typically, the higher you go in the troposphere, the colder it gets.​

Taken from the National Geographic website​​