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Adiabatic Temperature Changes

  • By: Jane R. Thorngren
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

When air rises or subsides in the atmosphere, its temperature changes as a result of the change in pressure. This is called adiabatic temperature change, and understanding what happens in this process is essential for understanding condensation and evaporation in the atmosphere, which in turn explain cloud formation and precipitation. The rates of temperature change of rising or subsiding air are known, but they vary according to several factors, such as whether there is condensation or evaporation taking place and the temperature of the air.

Rising and Subsiding Air

Rising air experiences a drop in temperature, even though no heat is lost to the surrounding environment. Air is a poor conductor of heat, so a rising air parcel will tend to remain discrete from the surrounding air, ...

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