Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsWeather · 1 decade ago

Can you explain this?

I was on a flight watching the computer screen display info about speed, altitude, etc. This was on a clear calm evening. The temperature at 15,000 feet was 17°F (-7°C). Surface temperature was 54°F (12°C). Using the lapse rate of 3.6°F per 1000 feet, shouldn't the temperature have been much colder, like 0°F?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    When I was on my last flight, I saw the same thing on a video monitor on the headrest. I fly a lot and many of these flights have those screens. I think they're great.

    However, the only thing I think about is one simple thing...


    You see Dave, I'm a guy.

    At 15,000 ft with the temperature outside at 17 degrees F...

    All I can think of is, Damn! That flight attendant is hot!

    I'd sure like to have sex with her....

  • 1 decade ago

    Essentially, the lapse rate is a measure of how much air decreases in temperature as it rises through the atmosphere.

    Environmental Lapse Rate : (ERL)

    This is the actual measured decrease in temperature with height above the ground ( i.e. the rate which is actually occurring, not a theoretical rate). Generally this is about 6.5 C per 1000 m. This rate does vary and depends on local air conditions. There are several influencing factors:

    * Height: Lapse rates depend on ground temperature (and are normally less near the ground)

    * Time of Year: Lapse rates are lower in winter or during a rainy season.

    * Surface: Lapse rates are lower over land than sea.

    * Air masses: Different properties of air masses mean different lapse rates.

    Adiabatic Lapse Rate :

    This is a theoretical rate and can be calculated.

    Looking at Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate : (DALR)

    A dry parcel of air which does not mix at all with the surrounding air is considered. As this parcel does not mix it can be considered to be adiabatic (i.e. it does not lose any heat outside of the parcel in the process). As the parcel of air rises through the atmosphere the surrounding pressure is less and so the parcel expands. Expanding takes energy and so the parcel cools (i.e. heat energy used in expansion). The rate at which the parcel cools, the DALR (dry adiabatic lapse rate), stays constant at 9.8 c per 1000m.

    The dry adiabatic lapse rate only applies when the relative humidity is less than 100%. When the air cools to dew point (the temperature at which the air can hold no more water without condensing) water vapour condenses out leading to complications due to the energy introduced from the latent heat. This then means that the saturated lapse rate is used below this temperature.

    Looking at Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate (SALR)

    The saturated lapse rate has to take into account the fact the energy is released when water condenses (called the latent heat). This means that once the air has cooled to the dew point and water has started condensing the air parcel cools more slowly.. The SALR (saturated adiabatic lapse rate) range from 4 C per 1000m to as high as 9 C per 1000m. The average SALR is about 5.4 C per 1000m.

    Also it could be an inversion ,so with out a lot of data before you, you cannot ACCURATELY calculate the temp it "should" be.

  • 3 years ago

    All i choose for Christmas is my 2 front tooth ( I had an twist of destiny years in the past and the front have porcelin caps that should get replaced in approximately 2 months whilst i'm going to have saved sufficient money to interchange them!)

  • 1 decade ago

    Temperature doesn't go down in a linear fashion.

    This graph shows the temperature according to height.

    To see the explanation, look here's_atmosphere#Te...

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  • 1 decade ago


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