The troposphere, the first layer above Earth’s surface, comprises approximately half the Earth’s atmosphere. It begins at sea level and extends five to nine miles in height, which varies from the North and South Poles to the Equator. Since the troposphere is at the bottom of the atmosphere, the weight of air is greatest in this layer, and all weather conditions that are experienced, and all clouds that can be seen, occur in the troposphere, with air temperature and air pressure decreasing as altitude increases.
Who Discovered The Troposphere?
The term “troposphere” was coined in 1902 by Leon Philippe Teisserenc de Bort, a French meteorologist and pioneer in the use of meteorological balloons. When was Teisserenc de Bort born? Born on Nov. 5, 1855, in Paris to the French Minister of Agriculture, he began his career in the mid- 1870s when he became secretary of the Society Meteorologique de France, founded 20 years earlier by Emilien Renou and Charles Sainte-Claire Deville. In 1878, he joined the meteorology department of the Bureau Central Meteorologique (the “BCM”) in Paris under E. E. W. Mascart, and in 1892, he became the chief of meteorologyat the BCM. After almost two decades at the BCM, Teisserenc de Bort resigned in 1896 to establish his own observatory for dynamic meteorology on a three-hectare site he purchased southwest of Paris, on the plateau of Trappes near Versailles. It was at this observatory that he used high-flying instrumented hydrogen balloons (unmanned hydrogen balloons, carrying light, very precise instruments), then an innovated method in the field of meteorology, to perform experiments with respect to clouds and the atmosphere. In 1899, he published a paper in Comptes Rendus, which detailed his findings relating to the composition of the atmosphere.
Until the early 1900s it was believed that temperatures decreased with elevation at a rate of about 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit per 590 feet and was assumed that this rate of decrease continued into space. Through his balloon experiments, however, Teisserenc de Bort discovered that above an altitude of approximately seven to eight miles, up to the highest points reachable, temperatures level off and begin to increase.
Where Did The Troposphere Get Its Name?
Initially uncertain as to whether his measurements were accurate, or simply caused by a systematic bias resulting in increased temperatures, Teisserenc de Bort performed more than 200 additional balloon experiments until his findings were confirmed. Upon such confirmation, Teisserenc de Bort suggested, in 1902, that the atmosphere was divided into two layers. He coined the lower level, with its large temperature differences, constant changes and combining atmospheric gases, the “troposphere” (“sphere of change,” derived from the Greek word tropein, which means to change, circulate or mix). He coined the upper layer, which he mistakenly thought consisted of the remaining layers of the atmosphere, the “stratosphere” (“sphere of layers”).
Teisserenc de Bort was elected a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society in 1903 and an honorary member of the Society in 1909. In 1908, he was awarded the Symos GoldMedal of the Society. When did Teisserenc de Bort die? He died on Jan. 2, 1913, in Cannes, France. Upon his death, his family donated his observatory in Trappes to Franceso that his experiments could be continued.