The atmosphere is the thin, diffuse fluid that envelops the Earth's surface. Despite its apparent fragility, the existence of this fluid is vital for human and other life on Earth.
In this Very Short Introduction Paul Palmer describes the physical and chemical characteristics of different layers in the atmosphere, and shows how the interactions where the atmosphere is in contact with land, ocean, and ice affect its observed physical and chemical properties. He also looks at how movement in the atmosphere, driven by heat from the sun, transports heat from lower latitudes to higher latitudes, and is a fundamental feature of the general circulation in the
atmosphere. Finally, Palmer presents an overview of the types of measurements used to understand different parts of the atmosphere, and identifies the future challenges for atmospheric scientists.
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Paul Palmer is Professor of Quantitative Earth Observation at the University of Edinburgh, and a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award Holder. He has previously won a Leverhulme Prize and a Zeldovich Medal from the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is the author of Essential Maths for Geoscientists: An Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).