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Temperature Inversion

  • Usually as we move up in troposphere from the surface, the temperature decreases with increase in altitude.
  • But sometimes due to local conditions, the temperature, instead of decreasing, increases with height.
  • This phenomenon is called temperature inversion.
  • This is also known as negative lapse rate.
  • The different types of inversions may be classified as –

    Low level or ground surface inversion:

  • this is the condition where temperature near the ground increases, rather than decreasing with elevation.
  • This type of inversion occurs generally in tropical and sub- tropical regions during the period of long winter nights.
  • This inversion however, disappears with sunrise.
  • The duration and height of surface inversion increases pole wards.
  • Following conditions are required for ground surface inversion:

      Long winter nights Cloudless calm skies

      Dry air and low relative humidity

      Calm atmosphere or slow movement of air Snow covered surface

    Upper air inversion:

  • it occurs when the warm air is transported upwards into the cold air due to eddies.

  • It may be caused due to compression of the descending air as it happens in the case of subtropical high pressure belts.

    Frontal inversion:

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  • it is caused by horizontal and vertical movement of air.

  • The temperate cyclones are formed by convergence of warm westerlies and cold polar air, and thus the warm air overlies the cold air.

  • The presence of warm air above and cold air below reverses the normal lapse rate and inversion of temperature occurs.

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