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Top 10 Characteristics of Air You Need To Know


Air we breathe envelops us from all sides extending far out into the space forming what we call Earth’s atmosphere. It is not only important for sustaining life on the planet but also for numerous chemical and physical phenomena taking place everywhere. It is because of the protective layer of the air that we are shielded from the harmful side-effects of sunrays penetrating into the planet’s atmosphere. In the following discussion we will try to explore more about air, its composition, properties and the atmosphere.

What is air?

Air comprises of mixture gases surrounding us and everything else notwithstanding its being invisible. Layers upon layers of air go around the Earth up into the space.  We also discuss also discuss up to what point space around the plant is called atmosphere at an appropriate place. Now that we have defined air as comprising of mixture of gases, it is pertinent to know the percentage of gases in the atmosphere. Two gases make up virtually the entire atmosphere of Earth with nitrogen forming 78% and later comprising 21%. In tiny percentage numerous other gases like argon, neon, hydrogen, etc, also have their presence.

1. Significance of air

We discussed in the preceding paragraph of the major constituents of air. Now we will talk about the significance or importance of air in our life and the organization of the planetary activities. We breathe air to respire oxygen needed for generating energy for doing our daily tasks of life. Humans and animals breathe in oxygen for respiration and breathe out carbon dioxide, which is used by the plant for the process of photosynthesis.

2. Particles in the air

 It is the usual assumption that air comprises of just different gases which is not true.  There are countless tiny particles suspended in the air called aerosols.  These aerosols often get swirled around a lot with wind blowing around. Moreover, the particles carried around by air are the reasons it gets polluted. When too many particles saturate the air through smoke and soot it becomes dangerous to breathe and can potentially can cause numerous health disorders besides setting in motion environmental degradation.

3. Role of carbon dioxide in the air

We breathe oxygen which is oxidized (burned) at the cellular level releasing energy and carbon dioxide is generated due to cellular combustion, which is transported back to the lungs from where it is exhaled back into the atmosphere. The plants take the carbon dioxide breaking it down using sunlight to prepare their nutrients. This process is known as photosynthesis. And, just as animals and humans exhale carbon dioxide, the plants do the opposite; they give off oxygen. A great deal carbon dioxide is also generated through industrial activity. This is caused chiefly by burning of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, etc.

4. Water content in the air

Just as air contains aerosol s as discussed above, it is also known to contain water content. How do you feel in July, the season for monsoon in India? Obviously, you would say it is humid. There is a concept of relative humidity for measuring water content in the air. It is defined as the amount of water content held up in the air before it gets released as rain. Measured in percentages, relative humidity is 100% just before rains.

5. Air pollution can affect health

Air pollution is caused due to the industrial activity and vehicular smoke. Pollution is measured in Air Quality Index, or AQI. When AQI goes above 100, it starts to affect your health. It is like breathing directly from the exhaust-pipe of a car. Big cities with heavy traffic and assortment of industrial activity are found to be heavily polluted so ensuring a healthy lifestyle is pretty much difficult.

6. Air as protective shield

Air in the atmosphere protects us from diverse range of things that could threaten our existence. First of all, protective shield provided by atmospheric air in a temperature range that livings can endure through. It does let the planet get too hot or too cold for our comfort. Earth’s atmosphere also comprises of ozone gas which shields us from the harmful effects of sun rays. The air also shields us from meteoroids coming into the atmosphere of Earth. They get burned to ashes moving through the atmosphere before reaching the Earth.

7. Air-borne microbial life

Generally, it is thought that living organisms only live in the soil and water but that is not the case.  They are also found in the atmosphere as well. These are microbial organisms found in the air. The microbes cannot fly but they can get carried around in the air through incredible distances.

8. Air can travel great distances

 Air is always moving; it is never static. You must have felt it moving around you. It can move at great speed. When the wind blows hard you can see it sways trees and even uproots them. The fastest speed ever recorded for wind was 407km/hour. The wind blows seeds, particles and dust across great distances. That is how seeds of flora from one area got transported to another area.

9. Changes in the air on going up the atmosphere

Air is light and invisible, mostly. It is felt mostly it is blowing against you strongly.  However the lightness of air only appears so but, in reality, it is being subject to downwards push all the time, which is called air pressure. Air pressure is highest at the sea level being subject to the downward push of the entire atmosphere acting on you.  As you start going up the sea level there is less air weighing on you. On top of the mountain, there is considerably less air pressure.

10. Most of air found in troposphere

It is estimated that over 75% of the atmospheric air by mass is found in troposphere, closest layer to Earth’s surface extending up to 10kms. It is also the site where most of the pollutants are found. Troposphere is also the place containing water in three states- liquid, gas and solid.

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