Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
THE STRATOSPHERE IS a layer in the atmosphere that extends between about 9 to 31 mi. (15 and 50 km.) in altitude. It is characterized by a vertical temperature structure that is nearly isothermal (no temperature change with altitude) in the lowermost stratosphere and a pronounced inversion (increase of temperature with altitude) above. The stratosphere owes its name to the strong stratification, which is a consequence of this thermal structure. The stratosphere plays an important role in the climate system. It contains the ozone layer, which shields the Earths surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation and is responsible for the temperature of the stratosphere. Radiative processes in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum also play an important role. Because, in the stratosphere, chemistry, dynamics, and radiative processes operate under very different conditions than in the troposphere, the stratosphere is susceptible to climatic forcings in a different way than the troposphere. ...