December 8, 2023

Soil Air and Atmospheric Air top 11 difference

Atmospheric Air is the vast amount of gases that surround our planet. It’s mostly comprised of oxygen, and nitrogen along with trace gases. It helps to sustain the life of our planet by providing oxygen, controlling our environment, as well as protecting us from damaging solar radiation.

In contrast, Soil Air is the air that’s tucked away in between the soil particles. In contrast to its counterpart in the atmosphere, It is unique in its composition influenced by the activities of microbial organisms as well as plant roots as well as soil water. Although less well-known yet, soil air is vital, directly affecting the health of plants and soil ecology. Soil Air and Atmospheric Air air realms are both essential to the health of the ecosystems of our planet.

Soil air is found in the voids or gaps in between the soil particles. Contrary to the air we breathe over the ground, the air in soil has a distinct composition affected by a range of variables, including the type of soil and moisture content, microbial activity, as well as the roots of plants.

  1. Composition: Its content is different from air in the atmosphere. One of the major distinctions is the higher level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air or soil. This is due to the transpiration of soil roots and microorganisms. O2 (O2) levels may also be reduced in the air of soil, particularly in soils that are compacted or flooded in which the air space is filled with water.
  2. Transfer between Atmospheric Air: Soil air doesn’t stay stagnant, there is a constant exchange of gas between soils and air. This helps ensure that the plant roots get the oxygen they require to respire while releasing CO2 and various gases into the atmosphere.
  3. Influence on the health of plants: The composition and quality of the air in the soil are crucial to the health of plants. Plants depend on oxygen from the air in the soil to help them breathe. The soils that are flooded, lacking adequate air supply, can strain plants and cause root ailments.
  4. Microbial Activity: Soil air affects the microbiome within the soil. Microorganisms, such as fungi and bacteria, utilize the gasses in soil air to conduct their metabolic processes. Their activities, in turn, affect the gas composition of soil air, particularly in the cases of microbes that produce or consume gases such as nitrogen or methane.
  5. Environmental significance: Soil air plays a part in processes that affect the environment like carbon sequestration and greenhouse effect. The ability of soil to hold and release certain gases could influence global carbon and nitrogen cycles.
Soil Air
Figure 01: Soil Air

the soil air is a dynamic element of the soil’s ecosystem, affected by and influencing both bio- (living) as well as abiotic (non-living) elements of the ecosystem of the soil. Understanding the nature of its properties and how they behave is crucial for agronomy, ecological sciences, and ecology.

A brief overview of Atmospheric Air

Atmospheric Air is the layer of gases that surrounds the Earth as it plays an essential part in supporting life on Earth, controlling the climate, and interfacing with diverse ecosystems. The mix of gases, anchored to the surface of Earth by gravity, is what we call the atmosphere.

  1. Composition: Atmospheric air mostly consists of:
    • Nitrogen (N2) about 78 percent
    • Oxygen (O2) – about 21%
    • Argon (Ar) – around 0.93%
    • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is around 0.04 percent (though this proportion has been increasing because of human activities)
    • The trace amount of neon is methane, helium hydrogen, xenon, and many other elements.
    • Water vapor levels can range between 0% and about 4% based on the conditions in your area.
  2. Layers of the Atmosphere: The atmosphere is divided into layers, based on temperature fluctuations:
    • Troposphere The Troposphere is the closest layer that is located to Earth’s surface, where we live. The weather phenomena that occur here.
    • The stratosphere is an Ozone layer that protects all life forms in the Earth from damaging ultraviolet (UV) UV radiation.
    • Mesosphere: Meteors usually get burned up in this layer.
    • Thermosphere: It is home to the ionosphere that facilitates radio communications.
    • Exosphere The outermost layer that is a part of outer space.
  3. Function within Climate Regulation: The atmosphere plays a crucial part in global climate. Greenhouse gases, like methane and CO2, trap solar heat and ensure that the Earth is sufficiently warm to sustain life.
  4. Importance for Life: Oxygen in the air is necessary for the respiration of a majority of living creatures. The atmosphere also provides protection against harmful radiation from the sun as well as meteors.
  5. interaction with ecosystems: It is constantly in exchange with the oceans and land. For example, trees absorb CO2 when they photosynthesize, while the oceans absorb a variety of atmospheric gases that play an important role in controlling atmospheric composition.
  6. Human Effects: The activities of humans, particularly using fossil fuels for combustion, deforestation along with the industrial process, have resulted in an increase in greenhouse gases from many sources which has led to concern about climate change.
Atmospheric Air
Figure 02: Atmospheric Air

Atmospheric Air is not only what we breathe, it’s an intricate, dynamic system that is alive and interacts with Earth’s diverse ecosystems and is influenced by natural processes as well as human activities. Understanding its characteristics and behavior is essential for all fields from meteorology, environmental science, and climate research.

Soil Air and Atmospheric Air in the comparison chart

Aspect Soil Air Atmospheric Air
Definition The air is present in the voids or spaces between soil particles. The layer of gases that surrounds the Earth.
Primary Components Oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and trace gases. Nitrogen (~78%), oxygen (~21%), argon (~0.93%), and trace gases.
Carbon Dioxide Concentration Generally higher due to root and microbial respiration. Approximately 0.04% (but rising due to human activities).
Oxygen Concentration Can be lower, especially in waterlogged soils. Approximately 21%.
Moisture Content Varies based on soil water retention; can displace air. Humidity varies based on weather and location; can reach up to 4%.
Temperature Stability More stable, influenced by soil depth and type. Susceptible to daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations.
Microbial Activity Influence Direct influence, with microbial respiration impacting gas composition. Microorganisms are present but in much lower densities.
Pressure Variations Influenced by soil compaction, moisture, and root growth. Decreases with altitude and is affected by weather systems.
Exchange with Surroundings Continual exchange with plant roots and atmosphere. In constant interaction with land, ocean, and outer space.
Environmental Impact Plays a role in carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. Regulates climate through greenhouse gas concentrations.
Human Influence Agricultural practices, soil compaction, and land-use changes impact soil air. Activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation have significantly altered atmospheric composition.

This chart provides a quick side-by-side comparison between soil air and atmospheric air, highlighting the key differences and similarities between the two.

Importance of understanding the differences between the two

Understanding the difference between atmospheric and soil air is vital for a variety of research, agricultural, as well as environmental purposes.

Here are a few reasons why separating both is crucial:

  1. Agricultural Productivity:
    • The quality and composition of the air that is in the soil has a direct impact on the growth of plants. Plants require oxygen from the air in the soil for their respiration. carbon dioxide levels are higher, which can be beneficial to plant growth.
    • Understanding the role of air in soil can assist in assessing the health of soils as well as managing irrigation. It also assists in identifying issues that are related to stress on plants as well as general plant health.
  2. Environmental Implications:
    • Soil plays an important role when it comes to carbon sequestration. By understanding the chemistry of soil’s air, scientists can determine better the way that soils function as a carbon source or sink.
    • Soil air can provide clues on greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane and nitrous oxide, and their implications for climate change globally.
  3. Soil Remediation:
    • In the case of soil contamination, the release of some contaminants in soil air could be detrimental to both environmental health as well as human exposure.
    • Understanding the air quality of soil can help guide the strategies for remediation and risk assessment.
  4. Climate Change Studies:
    • The composition of the air in the atmosphere alters due to human activity which can affect soil processes, and reverse. Soils can release carbon stored in and contribute to the rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
  5. Building and Construction:
    • To plan and construct a city understanding the soil’s air and its dynamic is essential. Soil gas may infiltrate structures, which can affect the indoor air quality. Radon gas for instance is a health risk in homes where it is absorbed by the.
  6. Ecological Balance:
    • Soil air plays an important role in the formation of microbial communities that live in soil. These microbes aid in the cycle of nutrient as well as organic matter degradation and general soil fertility.
  7. Water Management:
    • In areas that are susceptible to flooding, or with soils that are waterlogged, knowing the air-soil dynamics of soils can help guide the land management decision-making process to avoid root disease in plants and help to maintain healthy ecosystems.
  8. Research & Academia:
    • From an academic standpoint Understanding the distinctions helps in the development of comprehensive research, constructing models, and forming hypotheses in areas like agronomy ecological science, and environmental sciences.

In the end, understanding the differences between soil air and air pollution is crucial to making informed decisions in the fields of agriculture, environmental management construction, and research. This knowledge helps to implement sustainable practices, increases yields for crops, helps in the fight against climate change, and protects the health of humans.

Implications of the Differences

The difference between atmospheric and soil air can have a variety of implications that span diverse fields and sectors.

Here are a few of the major consequences:

  1. Plant Growth and Health:
    • The air quality of the soil directly affects the health of the root. Insufficient aeration of the soil, usually because of waterlogging, could result in a lower oxygen supply stressing plants and making them more susceptible to root diseases.
    • The higher level of carbon dioxide in the soil’s air could be beneficial to specific plant processes, but it could also be an indication of inadequate Aeration.
  2. Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change:
    • Soil is an energy source and a sink to greenhouse gases. Understanding the nature of the soil’s air can provide clues into how much methane or carbon dioxide the soil releases or absorption.
    • As the CO2 content increases due to human activities it could affect soil processes, release carbon that has been stored, and accelerate climate change.
  3. Microbial Activity and Soil Health:
    • Soil microbes thrive in certain air compositions. Unbalances in the components of the soil’s air particularly carbon dioxide and oxygen, could alter the microbial communities. This can impact soil fertility as well as the cycle of nutrients.
    • Soil air can provide insight into the rate of decomposition of organic material, and is essential to maintain soil health.
  4. Water Management and Land Use:
    • Understanding the dynamics of soil air can help make decisions in areas susceptible to flooding or with soils that are waterlogged. A well-planned land management strategy can stop soil compaction, encourage Aeration, and therefore support the growth of plants.
    • It helps make an informed decision about irrigation since over-irrigation may cause soil erosion. air, resulting in less air aeration.
  5. Human Health:
    • Soil gas, particularly in areas that are contaminated, could be a source of volatilization and impact the quality of indoor air if it gets into the buildings. Some gases, like radon, pose health risks.
    • In areas of agriculture, knowing the soil air is vital to stop the emission of hazardous gases due to the excessive use of fertilizers, or poor disposal of waste, to the atmosphere.
  6. Soil Remediation:
    • In the case of contaminated sites In contaminated sites, understanding the soil’s air dynamic helps in establishing strategies to improve soil health. The extent to which certain contaminants are able to be absorbed and the potential for them to enter the atmosphere may affect the remediation strategy chosen.
  7. Research and Monitoring:
    • The relationship between atmosphere and soil is essential in the monitoring of atmospheric conditions and modeling. It helps in making predictions about the emission of greenhouse gases and climate change and the health of the environment.

The differences between the air of soil and the atmospheric air have implications that affect the environment, agriculture as well as human health as well as the larger ecological balance. An understanding and control of these distinctions are essential for healthy and sustainable future outcomes.


Understanding the distinctions between the air in the soil and the atmospheric air is more than just an academic pursuit. The differences between these two have major implications for the environment, agriculture management, changes in climate, and health for humans.

The delicate balance between these two areas reveals the interconnectedness of the planet’s systems. When we understand and manage these subtleties, we can make educated decisions that help sustainable practices, increase agriculture’s productivity, fight climate change, and protect our health and well-being.

Reference books

If you’re looking to delve deeper into the subjects of soil air, atmospheric air, and their interactions, the following reference books are recommended:

  1. “Soil Science and Management” by Edward Plaster.
    • A comprehensive guide that delves into the various facets of soil science, including soil air and its role in plant growth and soil health.
  2. “Atmosphere, Weather and Climate” by Roger G. Barry and Richard J. Chorley.
    • This book provides an introduction to the atmospheric sciences, covering topics from weather patterns to broader climatic changes.
  3. “The Nature and Properties of Soils” by Nyle C. Brady and Ray R. Weil.
    • An authoritative text on soil science, it delves into soil properties, including soil air, and their implications for agriculture and the environment.
  4. “Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry” by Daniel J. Jacob.
    • A detailed guide to the composition and chemistry of the atmosphere, this book offers insights into how atmospheric components interact and change.
  5. “Soils and Environmental Quality” by Gary M. Pierzynski, J. Thomas Sims, and George F. Vance.
    • This book explores the role of soil in environmental quality, touching on topics like soil air, contamination, and the interaction between soil and the atmosphere.
  6. “Principles of Soil and Plant Water Relations” by M.B. Kirkham.
    • A deep dive into how water and air in soil influence plant growth, offering insights into topics like waterlogging and soil aeration.
  7. “Fundamentals of Soil Physics” by Daniel Hillel.
    • This book delves into the physical properties of soil, including the dynamics of soil air, and how these properties influence various soil processes.

When referencing or studying from these books, be sure to check for the latest editions to ensure that you’re accessing the most updated and relevant information.