How is the Atmosphere Heated?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

Earth’s atmosphere gets heated due to the following three critical processes: conduction, advection, and convection. The sun radiates energy in the form of heat and light in all directions which is called radiation. Conduction refers to the process through which heat is transferred through solid contact. Convection is the movement of heat through air currents.

Heating of the Atmosphere

As discussed above, the atmosphere is heated by three important processes that are carried out Conduction, Convection, and Advection. Radiation is also an important step in the process of heating the atmosphere.

Conduction: Heat transfers from items with a higher temperature to those with a lower temperature through this mechanism. The upper layers, which are in contact with the lower layers, as well as the air in contact with the soil eventually warm up.

  • The metal spoon in the soup pot will soon start to heat up on the stove.
  • This is brought on by the transfer of thermal energy from one molecule or atom to another.
  • The heat transfer from the arc during welding also causes the metal to heat up.

Convection: The vertical heating of the atmosphere is known as Convection. When heated, the air in contact with the ground rises vertically in the form of currents and transfers heat to the atmosphere.

  • Air in the atmosphere acts like a fluid. Sunlight hits the ground and heats the rocks. As the temperature of the rock rises due to conduction, thermal energy is released into the atmosphere, creating a bubble of air warmer than the surrounding air.
  • This air bubble rises into the atmosphere.
  • The bubble cools as it rises, releasing the heat it holds into the atmosphere.

Advection: The transfer of heat by horizontal air movement is called Advection.


How is the Atmosphere Heated?

Advection, conduction, and convection are the three basic causes of atmospheric heating. An atmosphere is a layer of gas that surrounds a planet and is kept in place by the gravitational pull of the planetary body.

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