Read the story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Mark Wadsworth blog
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

How to work out the 'adiabatic lapse rate' using logic and maths (instead of relying on observations).

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

Some of my posts drag on a bit before the conclusion, so this time I will do bullet points first (with links to skip down to the fuller explanation).

1) The traditional explanation, that the sun warms the Earth’s surface; the surface warms the air above it is largely nonsense, if you bother thinking about it for a few minutes. To make matters worse, they never make it clear whether they mean warming by conduction, convection or radiation.Fuller explanation.

2) The actual explanation is that energy tries to spread out and equalise in all directions. The number of Joules in each m3 of the Earth’s troposphere is actually the same. The air in 1 m3 at sea level has no potential energy but lots of heat energy. The air in 1 m3 higher up has less heat energy but more potential energy. The two amounts of energy (number of Joules) add up to the same. It does not matter whether you call it conduction, convection or radiation!Fuller explanation.

3) Some constants and formulae we have to accept as a given; we plug these into the workings; and work backwards to get the lapse rate that balances energy/volume (measured as Joules/m3). Constants, formulae and workings.

4) Conclusion: to get the energy/m3 to balance, the local temperatures of the atmosphere has to fall by 8C (or 8K) for every 1 km you go up. That’s a bit more than the observed lapse rate of 6.5C, and a bit less than the 9.8C which Wiki says is the theoretical dry lapse rate. So I’m pretty happy with it for now.

5) How to set up hyperlinks within one web page, from

1) The traditional explanation is nonsense.

You’re seven years old and your science teacher tells you that the Sun warms the earth surface; this warms the air above it; that warms the air above that etc. So the bottom layer is warmest and it gets colder the higher you go. So kids, she trills, that’s why it’s so cold at the top of Mt Everest or outside a jet plane.

Sounds plausible until you relate it to real life…

- there is a lapse rate at night, when the surface is not being warmed and it’s actually cooling down faster than the air. Which is why you should have more layers underneath you than above you when sleeping in the open at night.

- there is a lapse rate, even when it’s cloudy and the surface is not being warmed; the sun is hitting the clouds first. It’s still colder above the clouds than below.

- the Sun (when it’s shining) hits the top of Mt Everest with the same intensity as it hits land at sea level; but it doesn’t warm it up nearly as much (immediate thought; because there is not as much air insulating it? But Miss, I thought a vacuum insulated better – i.e. conducts less heat – than air? But a vacuum allows heat to radiate more easily? All these are dead ends).

2) The actual explanation.

I hope we all remember “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just transforms from one state to another”. The sun sends us light energy; plants grow and store chemical energy. You burn wood in a power station and convert it to heat; that turns water to steam; steam gets converted to kinetic energy and water (again); the kinetic energy gets converted via magnetic to electrical energy. Which goes down the wires, through a filament and becomes light energy (and a bit of heat).

Energy will choose whatever state enables it to spread out as quickly as possible for a given medium

Heat will flow from warm to cold (speed depends on how good the medium insulates); photons will go from light to dark (which is why it takes them so long to leave the sun; it’s equally bright everywhere); once the photons have escaped the sun, it’s “Wahey lads and lasses! Spread out! It’s dark out there! There’s nothing but the speed of light to hold us back!”; sound waves travel as fast as they can from loud to quiet (760 mph at sea level; faster through solids).

Gases are very compliant, energy can travel through it using conduction or radiation; or by conduction i.e. converting heat to potential energy and vice versa. The precise speed is immaterial in an equilibrium situation – it is to all intents and purposes instantaneous.

3) The constants, formulae and workings.

If you take everything else as a given, the required balancing figure is the lapse rate. You get the best fit with 8K per 1,000 metres. Bottom row shows I’m out by within 3% either way. Result! Click to enlarge.


Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at

Get our Free Ebook, "Suppressed Health Secrets"  with  Natural Cures THEY don't want you to know!

Humic & Fulvic Trace Minerals Complex - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen! 
Organic Hemp Extract (CBD) - Full Spectrum high CBD (3300mg) hemp extract eases stiff joints, relieves stress and more!
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.
Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)

Immusist Beverage Concentrate - Proprietary blend, formulated to reduce inflammation while hydrating and oxygenating the cells.

Report abuse


    Your Comments
    Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

    Load more ...




    Email this story
    Email this story

    If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

    If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.