Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in TellMeWhy |

Why Does It Get Colder as You Go Higher?

Why Does It Get Colder as You Go Higher?

Why Does It Get Colder as You Go Higher? Covering the earth is a deep ocean of air. It holds the sun’s heat and warms the earth’s surface. The higher up you go in the atmosphere, the thinner the air becomes.

This thin air cannot hold as much heat as the air at lower elevations and therefore, is usually much cooler, so the temperature drops.

For each one thousand feet (300 meters) you go up, the temperature goes down between three and four degrees Fahrenheit.

Snow is often present on very high mountaintops during the summer. This is because the temperature never gets warm enough for all the snow to melt. Above all now you know why does it get colder as you go higher.

Why is it colder as the sun comes up? Once the sun comes up, the sunlight excites the cold air in the first foot or so above the ground (which is 10 or more degrees colder), which causes it to move around and mix into the next several feet of air. That “mixing upward” drops the temperature of the air at thermometer level.

Why does heat rise up? Hot air rises because when you heat air (or any other gas for that matter), it expands. When the air expands, it becomes less dense than the air around it. The less dense hot air then floats in the more dense cold air much like wood floats on water because wood is less dense than water.

Content for this question contributed by Steven Stark, resident of Sheridan, Sheridan County, Wyoming, USA