Q:

How does altitude affect climate?

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Quick Answer

Altitude affects climate in that the higher up you get, the more the temperature drops. The temperature goes down roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet you climb. Altitude is the subject's distance from the sea. This is why a lot of high-up places such as mountaintops often get snow for most of the year when other places do not, no matter how low the temperature drops.

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How does altitude affect climate?
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Full Answer

The higher the pressure of any gas, such as air, the warmer it becomes. When pressure is relieved, the gas cools. On Earth, the air pressure is approximately 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level. At about 50,000 feet above sea level, the air pressure is reduced to about 1.6 pounds per square inch. This means that in those areas, the temperature is extremely low.

Cooler temperatures in higher spaces translates to less evaporation and more moisture in the air; this is another reason why mountains have a lot of snowfall. Mountains sometimes prevent air from moving to other low areas due to their sheer size, meaning that the transportation of water is also limited. This can result in a very dry or desert-like climate in the lower regions. Often, two sides of the same mountain have different climates because of the water and air movement.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why does temperature change with altitude?

    A:

    When altitude increases, air temperature decreases. This is because, with an increase in altitude, there is a decrease in air pressure. When air pressure decreases, air cools down.

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  • Q:

    Why does the air pressure change with altitude?

    A:

    Air pressure changes with altitude because of issues related to gravity. Molecules have more weight the closer they are to the Earth and more of them move to lower elevations as a result; this causes increased pressure because there are more molecules in number and proximity. Conversely, air at higher elevations has less weight, but also forces pressure on those layers below it, resulting in the molecules closer to the Earth supporting more weight, increasing the pressure.

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  • Q:

    Why does the atmosphere become less dense as altitude increases?

    A:

    The atmosphere becomes less dense as altitude increases because there is less weight on the air molecules, making them less compressed. The air at lower altitudes is denser because it is pressed down by the weight of all the air molecules above. Also, the further away air molecules are from the Earth, the less weight they have because of a lower gravitational pull.

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  • Q:

    What happens to air pressure as altitude increases?

    A:

    As altitude increases, the air pressure decreases. The surface of the earth is the bottom of an ocean of air. The layers on top increase pressure so that at sea level a body is under 14.7 pounds of pressure per square inch. Moving up in altitude decreases weight of air that causes the pressure. At 18,000 feet, the pressure decreases to 7.4 pounds of pressure per square inch.

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