By P. M. Banks and G. Kockarts (Auth.)
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54. H. Craig, in Earth Science and Meteoritics (J. Geiss and E. D. ). Chapter 6, p. 103. , Amsterdam, 1963. 55. H. D. Babcock and L. Herzberg, Astrophys. J. 108, 167 (1948). 56. G. A. Lane and M. Dole, Science 123, 574 (1956). 1 Introduction Thirty years ago it was generally accepted that the composition of the stratospheric air varied with altitude because it was believed that helium and oxygen samples taken above 20 km showed departures from a mixing distribution toward partial diffusive separation.
Conrath, R. A. Hanel, V. G. Kunde, and C. Prabhakara, /. Geophys. Res. 75, 5831 (1970). 1 Introduction The transition from the homosphere to the heterosphere involves a competition between mixing and diffusive processes. The former tends to keep the mean molecular mass constant with altitude, while the latter acts to let each gas constituent assume a density and pressure distribution consistent with its own mass and temperature. In the case of the earth's atmosphere there is an additional complication which arises from the photodissociation of molecular oxygen.
Other characteristic variations are due to the processes which discriminate between the isotopes. All variations occur as a result of the simultaneous interaction of the lithosphère, the atmosphere, and the biosphere. Nevertheless, we do not yet have any idea of their behavior in the regions above the troposphere. Radioactive carbon 14C, generated by cosmic radiation, is also produced by thermonuclear explosions. Since this isotope has a half-life of the order of 5730 years, it has been used for the age determination of biospheric products.