This is an instruction on the adiabatic cooling process and different types of clouds. For some of the links, the user must use the back function to return to this page.
Adiabatic cooling deals with the cooling of parcels of air as they rise, or are forced up, through the atmosphere. There are three different rates of cooling for air. The first is the ambient atmosphere lapse rate which is the rate that air cools as one goes up in altitude. The second, is the Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate, -10 degrees/1000m. The third is the Wet Adiabatic Lapse Rate, about -6 degrees/1000m. The last two rates are in reference to a parcel of air that is rising through the atmosphere. The first rate is used to describe the temperature of the surrounding air that the rising air is passing through. The best illustration of adiabatic cooling is as a parcel of air is being forced over a land formation, such as a mountain. Let us take this process step by step with illustrations.
The temperature of the air at sea level on the west side of the mountain begins at 30 degrees celsius. The air begins to rise over the mountain cooling at the dry adiabatic rate of -10 degrees/1000 meters.
Link to illustration 1 and discussion
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