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This plays a very relevant role in the uppermost layers of an atmosphere, where direct exposure to the solar flux is strongest. For this reason the composition of the upper atmospheres of the terrestrial planets is determined by a balance between photochemistry and a second major process: transport.


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Atmospheric transport occurs both in the vertical e. This balance between photochemistry and dynamics, and between the different transport mechanisms, determines the altitude of an important atmospheric atmosphere, from the composition point of view, called the homopause. This is a transition layer below of which the atmosphere is approximately well mixed.

The Photochemistry of Atmospheres

Above the homopause, the relative abundance of each species changes with altitude according to its molecular mass. A good knowledge of the photochemical reactions is essential for understanding the composition and radiative balance of the planetary atmospheres in general and of the terrestrial planets in particular. The atomic oxygen, a minor species in these terrestrial atmospheres, is key for this mechanism.

The dependence of the CO 2 population states on factors like the radiation field or minor species abundances is an example of what is known as non-local thermodynamic equilibrium, a complex situation in the upper atmospheres of the planets. As a consequence, light molecules are relatively more abundant in the upper atmosphere than in lower layers.

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DeMore Yung ; Y. Yung ; William B. Publisher: Oxford University Press , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Review : This volume provides a comprehensive overview at some depth of what is the current state of the study of planetary atmospheres. This is a good reference book for those wanting to ascertain our current knowledge of the atmospheres of other planets' Chemistry in Britain "About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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