Earth Sciences


The mesosphere is the earth's atmosphere located above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere. This layer of the atmosphere decreases in temperature as the altitude increases. It can even reach temperatures of -80° C, at short distances. It extends from the stratopause, which is the contact zone between the stratosphere and the mesosphere. This is the third layer of the atmosphere and is the coldest. It has only 0.1% air. It is very important because this is where the ionization process takes place and the chemical reactions of the layer are formed.

What is the mesosphere?

The mesosphere is the atmosphere layer located above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere. It is an extremely cold layer at short distances. It is the third layer of the atmosphere and has almost no air, only 0.1%. It is the place where shooting stars can be observed and where spacecraft observe the different structures of the winds.

It is the layer where the spacecraft that go out of the earth begin to notice the structures of the winds. Here you can see shooting stars, which are meteoroids that disintegrate when they collide with the atmosphere. It is also important to understand the etymology of the word mesosphere. The word comes from the Greek and the conjunction of the words “μέσος” which means “medium” and the word “σφαῖρα” whose meaning is sphere. In other words, the mesosphere is the middle layer of the earth’s sphere.

Mesosphere characteristics

The main characteristics of the mesosphere are its strong winds that go from east to west, the different atmospheric tides, the waves of atmospheric gravity that are inside, generally known as gravity waves, and finally its planetary waves. These tides and waves can also be found in the troposphere and propagate upwards in the mesosphere. There are many gravity waves that can become so large that they become very unstable and dissipate.

It is also characterized because since its limit, the temperature is decreasing and can reach extremely cold temperatures, even temperatures of -110 ° C have been reported. In this layer there is no water vapor and the gases are decreasing. In addition, it is interesting to understand that gravity waves tend to be larger in this layer, producing a significant amount of instability and as a result, these waves always disappear. This layer extends from approximately 50 km to 80 km and is characterized by a temperature decrease, reaching 190-180 K at an altitude of 80 km. The upper limit of the mesosphere is known as Mesopause, which may be the coldest place of natural origin on Earth.

Mesosphere composition

The mesosphere is chemically composed of the same components as the troposphere, among them we can mention nitrogen and oxygen, which are very important for life. It also has the presence of important gases such as ozone. Here, ozone and water vapor concentrations are practically zero. However, the temperature is lower at this level compared to the previous two. This is because, as we separate from the earth: The chemical composition of air has a strong dependence on altitude, the atmosphere is filled with gases that are lighter and when altitudes are very high, the waste gases are stratified depending on their molecular mass.

Mesosphere function

The main function of the mesosphere is forming turbulences and atmospheric waves that act at spatial and temporal scales of enormous size. This is the region in which spacecraft returning to Earth after a voyage, begin to observe the structures of the winds in the background. It is important to take into account that its function is also, the warming of the ozone that usually decreases with altitude, thus producing the decrease in temperature in that layer. It is responsible for burning and disintegrating the meteorites when they approach the layer, and this is where we get, and we get to see what we usually know as shooting stars. We must always remember that, as a main objective, the mesosphere has the function of maintaining conditions favorable to life.


The mesosphere is one of the most important layers of the earth being the place where meteorites disintegrate when trying to enter the earth, thus avoiding great tragedies worldwide. At the same time, it is one of the layers in charge of maintaining favorable conditions for human life, plants and animals. It is also important because of ionization and the chemical reactions that occur in it.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Mesosphere. Recovered on 24 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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