Why does Earth's atmosphere get thinner at higher altitudes?

Combined effect of gravity and the fact that as you go higher, the volume increases. "Thinner" just means lower pressure. Gravity is what creates air pressure. All the mass of air is pulled downward creating pressure. The higher you go, the less air is above you and thus less force is pressing on you. Additionally, the volume occupied by the air is much larger at high altitude than it is on the ground. If the same mass of air fills (for instance)a 1000 foot thick shell with an inner radius of 1 Earth Radii it will have a higher pressure than that mass would have in a 1000 ft thick sphere with an inner radius of 1.1 Earth Radii. The volume is much larger so the pressure decreases.
Centrifugal force of the earth's rotation
There are fewer molecules in the upper atmosphere. Simply put, gravity is strongest at the Earth's surface with less gravity as you reach higher altitudes. Gravity exerts force on air molecules pulling them towards the surface, therefore greater numbers of molecules closer to the surface. Approximately half of Earth's atmosphere lies below 18,000 feet.

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