The upper layer of air around the world as per BoLT1.

“…wrapped dark and sluggish about the world and without it."

Details and Comments

Tolkien started working on the The Book of Lost Tales" in 1916-17 during the First War, when he was 25 years old, but he left it incomplete several years later. Those writings - though very early and called provisional'', however seem to be the only place where a very detailed description of the airs around the new world is given.

From Notes to "The Coming of the Valar" in BOLT1, Chr.Tolkien writes:

In the next 'phase' of the mythical cosmology (dating from the 1930s, and very clearly and fully documented and illustrated in a work called Ambarkanta, The Shape of the World) the whole world is contained within Vaiya, a word meaning fold, envelope, Vaiya 'is more like to sea below the Earth and more like to air above the Earth' (which chimes with the description of the waters of Vai (p. 68) as very 'thin', so that no boat can sail on them nor fish swim in them, save the enchanted fish of Ulmo and his car); and in Vaiya below the Earth dwells Ulmo. Thus Vaiya is partly a development of Vaitya and partly of Vai.
Now since in the earliest word-list of the Qenya tongue (see the Appendix on Names; BOLT1) both Vaitya ('the outermost air beyond the world') and Vai ('the outer ocean') are derived from a root vaya- 'enfold', and since Vaitya in the present tale is said to be 'wrapped about the world and without it', one might think that Vaitya-Vai? already in the early cosmology was a continuous enfolding substance, and that the later cosmology, in this point, only makes explicit what was present but unexpressed in the Lost Tales.

The detailed description of the layers of the air wrapped around the world was abandoned in the Published Silmarillion except for some brief mentioning of the Outer Ocean (Vai).

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