A Brief Historical Outline

on the discovery of

Atmospheric Structure



1593 Galileo invents thermometer

1643 Evangelista Torricelli invents barometer

1648 Florin Périer (with Blaise Pascal's instruction) demonstrates pressure decreases with altitude

1714 Gabriel Fahrenheit introduces temperature scale

1749 Alexander Wilson uses thermometers on a kite

1804 manned balloon exploration by Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

1840's Laws of thermodynamics take shape

1850's James Espy empirically estimates dry and saturated lapse rates

1862 William Thomson theoretically derives these lapse rates

1866 James Maxwell develops kinetic theory of gases (suggested by Daniel Bernoulli in 1738)

1868 G. J. Storey proposes idea of an exosphere

1882 Balfour Stewart suggests electrical currents exist in upper atmosphere

1894 self-recording thermometer developed

1898 Léon-Philippe Teisserence de Bort begins use of instrumented balloons

1901 Teisserence de Bort discovers isothermal layer about 8 miles up

1901 Guglielmo Marconi receives trans-Atlantic radio signal

1902 Oliver Heaviside and Arthur Kennelly separately predict existence of ionosphere

1908 Teisserence de Bort coins words "troposphere" & "stratosphere"

1915 "zones of silence" imply temperature inversion exists above troposphere

1920 Gordon Dobson infers temperature inversion from observed altitude of meteors

1924 Edward Appleton develops ionosonde; confirms existence of ionosphere

1925 Robert Watson-Watt coins word "ionosphere"

1929 Robert Godddard conducts first rocket probe of atmosphere

1930 Sydney Chapman and Vincent Ferraro propose existence of magnetosphere

1948 Rocket probes of upper atmosphere begun

1957 Sputnik I launched, first satellite to orbit the Earth

1958 Explorer 1 discovers Van Allen "radiation" belts

1959 Thomas Gold coins word "magnetosphere"

1959 W. G. Stroud et al. discover very cold summer mesopause

1961 Explorer 12 detects magnetopause

1963 Donald Carpenter discovers plasmapause