Troposphere and tropopause

The lowest layer, extending to about 10 miles (16 km) over the equator, seven miles (11 km) over middle latitudes, and five miles (8 km) over the poles, is the troposphere. This is the region where the air is constantly being mixed and where all the world's weather happens.

It is also the layer in which the temperature decreases with height. Its upper boundary, known as the tropopause, is the height at which the temperature ceases to decrease as you climb higher. This means that air that is rising because it is warmer and therefore less dense than the air around it meets a barrier in the form of air at the same density. The air can rise no farther and so the tropopause forms a very real boundary.

The average temperature at the tropopause ranges from -85°F (-65°C) at the equator to -22°F (-30°C) at the poles. The temperature is higher at the poles than at the equator because the tropopause is lower there, so air cannot rise so high and its temperature cannot fall so low.

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