Core Strength Matters!
Learning about the tectonic plates led us to learn more about the earth's interior as well as the areas of the atmosphere which affect life here on earth.
Let's start at the middle of the earth and work our way out. The deepest layer is the Inner Core. It is a solid metal core about 3/4 the size of the moon. It is very dense and made up of mostly iron. The inner core spins faster than most of the planet, and it's temperature is 9,800 F.
Next is the Outer Core, which is also made of iron and nickel. The outer core is a liquid that churns in huge turbulent currents which creates electricity. This is how our planet's magnetic field is created. The magnetic field is important for many reasons including the use of a compass.
The Mantle is the Earth's thickest layer and is made of mostly iron, magnesium, and silicon. It's texture is a thick semi-solid similar to caramel. This layer also circulates but is way slower than the outer core. The mantel's temperature reaches the melting point of rocks and it is believed that this is what the tectonic plates slide on. Diamonds also come from the mantle!
The last layer is the crust. Along with the upper zone of the mantle, the crust is broken into big pieces called tectonic plates. Movement of these plates is the cause of most earthquakes and volcanoes.
We live on the crust and in the lowest layer of the atmosphere. This atmosphere layer is called the Troposphere. This is where weather occurs, we'll share a little about clouds and weather later in this post.
The next layer of the atmosphere is the stratosphere, this is where the ozone comes from and is the part of the sky where jets fly.
Moving right along on your tour we have the Mesosphere. Keep in mind, the air is too thin to survive, but it is helpful because this is where meteors headed toward earth burn up even though the temperature is -130 F. Yikes!
Going up even further we have the Thermosphere. This is where the aurora occurs. X rays and Ultra Violet rays are absorbed in this layer which protects us here on earth.
Let's head back to the Troposphere for a bit and talk about clouds and weather. There are several kinds of clouds.
Cumulus clouds, Altocumulus and Cirrus clouds all predict fair weather. These are the kinds of clouds you want to see on a vacation in the summer.
Nimbostratus and Cirrostratus clouds predict rain or snow. These might be the kinds of clouds you are hoping for if you want snow.
Stratocumulus clouds tell you that the weather is fair for now, but a storm is coming.
Then we have Cumulonimbus clouds. These clouds mean there's definitely a storm coming.
We did an experiment where we made a cloud in a jar, check out the clips below:
Stay tuned to learn about how the Big Island of Hawaii has 8 or 9, depending on how you classify, of the 13 different climates found on our planet. Also, we will discuss how trade winds affect weather.