Distribution of Temperature in the Earth’s Atmosphere

In the previous articles in the Geography section, we have discussed in detail about the composition and structure of the earth’s atmosphere, how and from where the earth receives its energy, how the earth maintains its temperature, methods through which the heat energy gets transferred in the atmosphere (insolation and heat balance of the earth) etc. In this article, we are going to discuss the trend of distribution of temperature in the earth’s atmosphere.

Difference between heat and temperature

  • The interaction of incoming solar radiation (in solation) with the atmosphere and the earth’s surface creates heat. This is measured in terms of temperature.
  • While heat represents the molecular movement of particles comprising a substance, the temperature is the measurement in degrees of how hot (or cold) a thing (or a place) is.
  • So, heat is the energy which makes things or objects hot, while temperature measures the intensity of heat (degree of hotness/coldness).
  • Heat and temperature are closely related to each other because gain or loss of heat is necessary to raise or lower the temperature.
  • The Celsius scale is the internationally accepted scale for reporting air temperature.
  • Fahrenheit scale and Kelvin scales are other scales used to measure temperature.
  • The Fahrenheit temperature scale is based on 32 °F for the freezing point of water and 212 °F for the boiling point of water, with the interval between the two being divided into 180 parts.
  • On the Kelvin scale, 0 K represents absolute zero (-273 °C), the temperature at which the molecules of a substance have their lowest possible energy.

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