components of dry air

What is air made of?

Dry air is primarily made up of nitrogen (78.09%) and oxygen (20.95%). The remaining 1% is made up of argon (0.93%), carbon dioxide (0.039% as of 2010) and other trace gases (0.003%). Water vapor (water in its gaseous state) is also present in the atmosphere in varying amounts, by up to 2%.
Interesting facts:
CARBON DIOXIDE: The amount of carbon dioxide, although small, will likely double in the next 100 years as more petroleum and coal is burned to fuel the world's need for energy. About half of the carbon dioxide produced in this way get absorbed by vegetation, which uses it for photosynthesis.

OXYGEN: While we know that vegetation produces oxygen as part of photosynthesis, the origin of the huge amount of oxygen in the atmosphere (20.95%) is somewhat of a mystery. Most of it is thought to have been produced from chemical reactions in ocean sediments.
(page last updated 11/26/2010)
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