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              This page contains information on the layer of the atmosphere called the Stratosphere.  This layer is the second closest to the Earth and also contains a special chemical we call ozone (O). 

           To the right is an animation of what we think an ozone molecule would look like.  Of course, you would take off the "O's".

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       The extent of the stratosphere covers the area beginning from the tropopause and ending at an altitude of about 50 kilometers.  The temperatures in this layer are around a frigid negative 60C; although the upper stratosphere has temperatures around a still freezing 18C.  The reason why will be explained later on.  The air in the lower stratosphere isn't lazy either, it is very active, traveling at an average speed of about 320kph!  These areas are what we like to call jet streams. 

       As we mentioned above, ozone is most abundant in this layer.  All of the O in the stratosphere creates something we call the ozone layer.  Ozone is very important to life on earth, as it protects our planet from harmful ultra-violet radiation.  It doesn't get all of the UV rays though, and that's why you get a sunburn.  Too much UV is also linked to skin cancer, so be careful!

       Now here is the reason why the upper stratosphere or stratopause is so warm (compared to the lower stratosphere).  When the ozone layer absorbs the ultra-violet radiation from the sun, they react and produce heat! And just like the tropopause, the stratopause separates the stratosphere from the next atmospheric layer.