Some Energy Sources and Sinks in the Upper Atmosphere

  • Conway B. Leovy
Conference paper
Part of the Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 51)


The overwhelmingly dominant energy source for the atmosphere is electromagnetic solar radiation, the gross disposition of which is given in Table I. The average temperature distribution in the troposphere is maintained to a large extent by the energy absorbed at the ground and transferred to the atmosphere as sensible or latent heat, together with the very effective emission of IR radiation from the upper troposphere. Less than 2% of the incident solar radiation is absorbed above 15 km, and less than 10-3% is absorbed above 80 km. Yet this part of the solar flux is responsible for the heating which determines the temperature structure of the stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere, and for practically all of the photodissociation and ionization processes in the atmosphere. In the next two sections of this paper we shall deal with this flux and its disposition in the atmosphere. In the subsequent section we consider the role of emission of IR radiation in determining the thermal structure of the mesosphere and the mesopause region.


Gravity Wave Zonal Wind Zenith Angle Planetary Wave Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Conway B. Leovy
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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