Energy & Environment

Top 4 Most Abundant Element in the Earth’s Atmosphere

most abundant element in the earth's atmosphere

The earth’s atmosphere consists of lots of mysteries. It consists of lots of gasses, water vapors, minerals, etc which ultimately support life on Earth in various ways. Several gasses are there that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Have you ever wondered what is the most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere? Which are the various gasses that are present in the atmosphere of the earth and make it suitable for the survival of human beings? 

Let’s try to unfold the details of the most abundant element in the Earth’s atmosphere.

What is the most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere?

Three-fourths of the entire air exists in the troposphere (the lowest level of the Earth’s atmosphere). Air is a combination of gasses, most of which occur in nature, naturally. Air also contains an important amount of human-made air impurity; some are not secure to breathe and some that temperate our planet’s environment. The troposphere in addition includes water in all three stages (solid, liquid, and gas) plus solid particles termed as aerosols.

The most abundant naturally occurring element in the earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen (N2), which forms approximately 78% of air. Oxygen (O2) is the next most abundant element, approximately 21%. The static gas Argon (Ar) is the third most abundant element, 0.93% approx. 

There are in addition small amounts of carbon-di-oxide (CO2), neon (Ne), methane (CH4), helium (He), hydrogen (H2), etc. Krypton (Kr), nitrous oxide (NO), xenon (Xe), iodine (I2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), and ammonia (NH3) are also there in the atmosphere.

Due to the water cycle, the quantity of water in the air is continuously altering. The lower troposphere can hold up to 4% water vapors (H2O) in regions near the tropics, whereas the poles hold only a small quantity of water vapor. 

The absorption of water vapor reduces radically with height. The upper troposphere has very less water vapor than the air near the surface. The stratosphere and mesosphere have nearly no water vapor, and the thermosphere holds nothing at all.

Let’s catch the most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere in detail:

The following table shows the symbol and the content of most abundant gasses  in the atmosphere:

Carbon DioxideCO20.035%

1. Nitrogen

nitrogen most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere
Image Source: Canva

Nitrogen is the most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere. It has the symbol N and atomic number 7. Nitrogen is an ordinary element in the universe. It is predictable at seventh in total abundance in the Milky Way and the Solar System. 

Nitrogen forms about 78% of Earth’s atmosphere, making it the most abundant uncombined element in the air. Because of the instability of nitrogen compounds, nitrogen is comparatively rare in the solid fraction of the Earth.


  • Nitrogen is the most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere.
  • Even though 78% of the atmosphere is nitrogen. Still, this nitrogen subsists roughly in a form that is unfeasible by the majority of organisms.
  • The innovation, a century ago, of industrial procedure transformed nitrogen in the air into ammonia, making the creation of nitrogen fertilizers probably increase in universal food manufacturing.
  • In the past 150 years, human-driven courses of reactive nitrogen have enlarged tenfold, causative to a dangerous accretion of idle reactive nitrogen.
  • The uptake by crops of nitrogen as manure restricts. Each year, 200 million tons of reactive nitrogen, around 80%, is lost to the atmosphere, discharging into soil, rivers, and lakes and releasing into the air. As an outcome, ecosystems are over-enriched, loss of biodiversity and negative effects on human health. In several forms, it adds to ozone depletion and climate alteration.
  • The annual cost of lost nitrogen resources estimates to approximately US$200 billion.

How does nitrogen contamination damage the environment and human health?

  • Nitrous oxide is 300 times more effective than methane and carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and it thus causes an increase in the earth’s temperature.
  • It is also the biggest human-made danger to the ozone layer.
  • With an atmospheric lifespan of 200 years, nitrous oxide poses a much more long-standing danger than other forms of impurity.
  • An anticipated 77% of the public breathes annual average absorption of nitrogen dioxide ahead of safe levels.

Why do we immediately need to diminish nitrogen pollution?

  • Sustainable nitrogen organization is in need to live in synchronization with the environment on a planet that is contamination-free and climate-steady.
  • It is necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and secure a cleaner, improved environment for potential generations.
  • It would avoid millions of untimely deaths and weakening ill-health while helping to guard wildlife and the ozone layer.
  • It would also improve food production since wounding emissions of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide by half could boost crop yields in China by 25 percent, 10 percent in Europe, and up to 8 percent in India.

2. Oxygen

Oxygen most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere
Image Source: Canva.

Oxygen is a chemical element. It has the symbol O and its atomic number is 8. Oxygen is the most abundant element in Earth’s shell, and after hydrogen and helium, it is the third-most abundant element on the earth. 

At regular temperature and pressure, two atoms of the component bind to form ‘oxygen’, a colorless and neutral diatomic gas with the formula O. Di-atomic oxygen gas presently constitutes 20.95% of the Earth’s atmosphere, though this has changed considerably over long periods of time.


  •  Below -183 °C (−297 °F), oxygen is a pale blue liquid; it becomes solid at approx -218 °C (−361 °F). Uncontaminated oxygen is 1.1 times heavier than air.
  • Approximately all the free oxygen in the atmosphere is due to photosynthesis. About 3 components of oxygen by volume liquefy in 100 parts of fresh water at 20 °C (68 °F), a little less in seawater. Dissolved oxygen is vital for the respiration of fish and additional marine life.
  • Natural oxygen is a combination of three constant isotopes: oxygen-16 (99.759%), oxygen-17 (0.037%), and oxygen-18 (0.204%). A number of artificially arrange radioactive isotopes are acknowledge. The longest existence, oxygen-15 (124-second half-life), is use to revise respiration in mammals.

How does oxygen contamination damage the environment and human health?

  • Outdoor air pollution in both cities and rural regions was predictable to cause 4.2 million early deaths universally per year in 2019. This mortality is due to disclosure of fine particulate matter, which causes cardiovascular and respiratory syndrome, and cancers.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2019, around 37% of outdoor air pollution-related early deaths were due to various heart infections and strokes. Around 18% and 23% of deaths were due to chronic disruptive pulmonary illness and severe lower respiratory disease respectively, and about 11% of deaths were due to cancer inside the respiratory region.
  • Public living in low and middle earning countries excessively experience the load of outdoor air pollution with around 89% (of the 4.2 million early deaths) occurring in these regions. The great burden is observable in Western Pacific areas and South-East Asia.

Reduction of Environmental damage from air pollution:

  • Minor air pollution level means less harm to the health of ecosystems.
  • Reduction in air pollution also recovers crop and wood yields. It creates a profit of worth likely to be $5.5 billion to the industries’ wellbeing in 2010, as per the examining reviewed March 2011 EPA study. 
  • Enhanced visibility conditions in 2010 from improved air quality in chosen national parks and urban regions had a predictable value of $34 billion.
  • Between the 1989 to 1991 and 2009 to 2011 surveillance periods, wet deposition of sulfate (which grounds acidification) reduced by more than 55% on an average across the eastern United States.
  • On-road and non-road diesel particulate substance emissions are reduce by about 27% from 1990 to 2005 and predicts to be reduce further 90% from 2005 to 2030.

3. Argon

argon gas
Image Source: Canva.

Argon is a chemical element. It has the symbol Ar and its atomic number is 18. Argon is the third most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere, at 0.934% (9340 ppmv). It is more than double, as abundant as water vapor (which standard approx 4000 ppmv, but varies significantly). 

Argon is 23 times as abundant as carbon dioxide CO2(400 ppmv), and further 500 times as abundant as neon (18 ppmv). Argon is the most abundant noble element in the earth’s shell, consisting of 0.00015% of the outer layer.


  • Argon is a colorless, fragrance-free, and flavorless gas. Its compactness is 1.784 grams per liter. The mass of air, for disparity, is approx 1.29 grams per liter. It varies from a gas to a liquid state at -185.86°C. Then it diverges from a liquid to a solid at -189.3°C.
  • The abundance of argon in the atmosphere is approx 0.93 %. It is in addition that finds in the Earth’s outer layer up to 4 pieces per million.
  • The three isotopes of argon are present in nature. They are: argon-36, argon-38, and argon-40. Isotopes differ from each other in accordance to their mass amount.
  • The boiling point of argon is -185.8 °C. There is a weak edge between atoms of the fine gasses. Thus, it leaves a stumpy boiling point for them.

Argon Flow Rate:

Argon is launched into the Sub Entry Nozzle (SEN) to reduce blockage of the SEN and to support the removal of enclosures from the steel. It has been reported that the point of departure for the bubbles lies secure to the SEN for large bubbles and moves extra to the border of the cast as the bubble size reduces. 

There is a chance that small bubbles can remove with the metal current and result in the creation of pinholes. Argon bubbling has been reported to influence powder utilization. It is also likely to have a moderate effect and thereby delays the metal flow. 

It is reported that powder utilization increased with growing argon flow rate. One likely explanation is that the argon bubbles boost vertical heat transfer from the metal to the slag pool transmit, which results in an advanced temperature for the slag pool and a concentrated slag thickness.

4. Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide - Co2
Image Source: Canva.

Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound with its chemical formula CO2. It is observable in the gas condition at room temperature, and as the resource of accessible carbon in the carbon cycle. Atmospheric CO2 is the chief carbon source for life on the Earth. 

In the air, carbon dioxide is translucent to noticeable light but it soaks up infrared radiation, acting as a greenhouse gas. The gas is soluble in water and is found in groundwater, seawater, lakes, and ice caps. 

It is an outline gas in Earth’s atmosphere at 421 parts per million (ppm), or approx 0.04% (as of May 2022) having increased from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm or approx 0.025%. Carbon dioxide is 53% more thick than dry air. But is a long existing gas and comprehensively mixes in the atmosphere.


  • Iced up carbon dioxide, often termed as dry ice, doesn’t dissolve. At atmospheric pressure it sublimes at −78.5 °C going directly from solid to gas.
  • The carbon dioxide gas is so chilly that humidity in the air compresses on it, creating a thick fog used in theater and film effects.
  • Earth’s lowest ever usual verified temperature was −89.2 °C traced in Antarctica in 1983. At this temperature, carbon dioxide would have dropped to the ground as snow or produced a mist of solid particles, by the way, mercury would have solidified ( = −38.8° C) and radon would have liquefied. ( −71° C).
  • Carbon dioxide is a desecrate product of respiration. An individual human exhales around 1 kg of carbon dioxide each day. This amount of carbon dioxide is absorbed by around 250 square meters of a temperate climate business conifer plantation.
  • The carbon dioxide has caused a runaway greenhouse effect, resulting in an exterior temperature averaging 465° C, higher than any other planet in the solar system.

How much of the earth’s atmosphere is Carbon Dioxide?

Since the beginning of industrial times in the 18th century, human activities have elevated the atmospheric CO2 by 50 percent, which means the quantity of CO2 is currently 150% of its value in 1750. This human-induced increase is greater than the natural boost observed at the ending of the last ice age 20,000 years ago.

As per the annual report from NOAA’s Global Monitoring Lab, the universal average atmospheric carbon dioxide was 419.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2023, setting a fresh record. The boost between 2022 and 2023 was 2.8 ppm, the 12th year in a row where the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere augmented by more than 2 ppm. 

At Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, where the modern carbon dioxide verification was initiated in 1958, the annual average carbon dioxide in 2023 was 421.08.


Q1. Which element is the greatest in the atmosphere?

Ans. Earth’s atmosphere is made of approx 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, and 0.1% other gasses.

Q2. How much of the earth’s atmosphere is oxygen?

Ans. The air in Earth’s atmosphere consists of approximately 21% oxygen. Air also has little amounts of other gasses, such as carbon dioxide, argon and hydrogen.

Q3. Is nitrogen the most abundant element in Earth’s atmosphere?

Ans. Nitrogen is found in plenty in the atmosphere more than in the earth’s crust. Whereas oxygen is present more abundantly in earth’s crust than nitrogen.

Q4. Do we breathe in nitrogen?

Ans. Nitrogen makes up almost 4/5th of the air we breathe, but being unreactive, it is not used in respiration at all. However, nitrogen is vital for the development of most living things, and is also found as a chief ingredient of proteins.

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