1.3.4 The role of convection in the atmosphere

We come currently to our final refinement to the straightforward photo in Figure 7. Respeak to that the troposphere is heated from listed below, via temperature then falling with raising altitude. This instance sets the scene for the oncollection of convection - the bulk circulation or circulation of a liquid propelled by distinctions in temperature. Convection in the setting plays a critical role in two even more mechanisms - fairly apart from the emission of longwave radiation - through which power is moved from the Earth"s surchallenge to the atmosphere.

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The initially is the move of "thermal" power (frequently referred to fairly loosely as "heat") by a combination of conduction and convection. This is fundamentally the very same system that heats a saucepan of water on the stove; view Box 4. The case in the setting is more complex, however the basic principle is the same. Warm air, heated by call via the ground or a warmth sea, rises upwards transporting warm transferred from the surface aloft. This permits even more cool air to come right into call through the surface and also be heated in its revolve. Working together, conduction/convection drive a significant circulation of heat across the boundary between the surchallenge and the air.

Anyone who tries to pick up a steel spoon left in call via a hot pan quickly learns that steels are good conductors of warmth. Conduction is the deliver of warmth via issue by molecular activity; i.e. the energy is transferred with call in between individual molecules. By comparison, convection is the transfer of heat by bulk movement or circulation within a liquid (a liquid prefer water or a gas like the air).

In Figure 11, heat is transmitted from the electric element, with the pan to the water in contact via the base of the pan by conduction. As water in this layer warms up, it expands - this is referred to as thermal expansion - and also so becomes less dense than the water above. As such new buoyancy, the warm water begins to climb, to be reput by cooler, denser water from above which is heated in its revolve. On getting to the surconfront, the warmed water begins to lose warm to the air; it cools, becomes denser and sinks, then is heated aget and rises, and so on. As lengthy as the water is heated unequally (i.e. from the bottom up), the water will certainly proceed to "revolve over" in a convective circulation so that eventually all of it becomes heat.


The second create of power move is indirect, but also even more essential on an international scale. It entails the evaporation of water - largely from the seas, but additionally from lakes and rivers, soils, rocks and also vegetation on land also. Evaporation needs power, known as the latent warm of vaporisation, which is extracted from the surconfront affiliated. This is why the evaporation of sweat acts to cool the body. The latent heat of vaporisation of water, i.e. the amount of warm required to convert 1 kg of liquid water to water vapour at the exact same temperature (and the amount of warm released to the bordering setting as soon as 1 kg of water vapour condenses) is 2.25 × 106 J kg−1 - greater than the worth for any other substance.


Convection carries air containing water vapour upwards, so the air simply above the surface does not come to be "saturated" (Section 1.2.2), enabling even more water to evaporate.

As we provided previously, the saturation limit of air relies on temperature: cool air have the right to lug much less water vapour than warmth air. As moisture-laden air is lugged upwards, it cools and might end up being saturated. Continued climb and also further cooling then outcomes in the condensation of water vapour onto aerosols in the air: clouds create and also latent warmth is released to the atmosphere. Clouds, the turbulence of atmospheric convection and the winds that redistribute warmth about the civilization are mostly confined to the troposphere (tropos is Greek for "turning").

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Look ago at Figure 9. It is often sassist that the tropopause acts choose a lid, avoiding convection in the lower atmosphere from reaching any type of better. Can you suggest why?


With (less dense) warm air lying over (even more dense) cooler air, problems in the stratospbelow are not conducive to convection. (Stratos is Latin for "layered".)

Rapidly climbing air deserve to (and also does) overshoot the tropopausage, mostly in the updraught of violent storms over the tropics. And tright here are rerotate paths as well, greatly at middle latitudes. In basic, though, the circulation of air in the stratospbelow does not interact strongly via the wind systems in the lower setting. It is within the tropospright here that the complete drama of the Earth"s weather occurs.