Natural Occurrence: Temperature Inversions

Normally, temperature decreases with height - the atmosphere cools by 1.98C for every 1,000ft of ascent, so the higher you go, the colder you get. Think about the images of intrepid explorers reaching the summit of Everest with icicles on their noses and frostbitten fingers!

Occasionally, conditions cause this to change. Instead of getting colder with height, the temperature increases, making it warmer at altitude than at ground level. When this happens, the cooler air, along with any pollutants, is trapped under the warmer air. This is known as a Temperature Inversion.

Take a look at this picture taken from the slopes of Latrigg towards Cat Bells, Hindscarth and Robinson. A temperature inversion has caused the cold air (over Derwent Water) to become trapped at a low level. We think that it makes for a rather impressive sight!

Originally published 10/10/12

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