This view of Earth's horizon as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean was taken on 21 July 2003 by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA Human Space Flight Collection

Atmospheric Science Literacy Framework

Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts of Atmospheric Science

The atmosphere is a dynamically circulating mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth. It becomes thinner until it gradually reaches space. Close to Earth's surface, oxygen is essential to life, because it allows us to breathe. High in the atmosphere, some of the oxygen has changed over time to ozone. The ozone layer filters out the Sun's harmful rays. Recently, there have been many studies on how humans have caused a hole in the ozone layer. Humans are also affecting Earth's atmosphere through the greenhouse effect. Increasing concentrations of gases like carbon dioxide are trapping heat as it is radiated from the Earth. This is highly likely to be the cause of global warming.

Atmospheric science literacy is a part of Earth system science literacy. It is an understanding of the "big ideas" of scientific knowledge relevant to the atmosphere. The atmospheric-literate person is able to communicate about the Earth's atmosphere in a meaningful way, and be equipped to make informed and responsible decisions about human activities that impact the Earth's atmosphere.

This framework for Atmospheric Science Literacy provides Essential Principles and subordinate and more specific Fundamental Concepts that individuals and communities should understand about the atmosphere. For more information on this effort, please visit the Atmospheric Science Literacy Framework web site. In addition, the Atmospheric Science Literacy Frameworks have been aligned with the National Science Education Standards.

Last modified July 29, 2009 by Becca Hatheway.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA