CliSAP successfully finished in 2018. Climate research continues in the Cluster of Excellence "CLICCS".

Ever changing: the atmosphere’s temperature

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The atmosphere is in perpetual motion. Due to the ever-changing amount of sunlight entering the atmosphere between day and night, summer and winter, air circulation is always kept going. This movement results from the fact that temperature influences air density, and thus affects how air rises and sinks.


The film below shows a typical temperature distribution using a test simulation from the global ECHAM6 model, developed by the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. In addition to the movement of the atmosphere over time, the video shows the temperature distribution up to 80 kilometers from the earth’s surface. This distribution depends both on the geographical position and the respective weather at a given location, at a given time.
Typical in this portrayal is that temperatures near the earth’s surface are higher in proximity to the tropics, and lower in the middle latitudes. The “color-bands” illustrate different layers of air. Close to the surface, air is heated by the Earth – and cools progressively as it rises higher, at least up until a point: after that, temperatures increase again – due to the higher amounts of UV radiation and the presence of the ozone layer.
The Tropopause (pink oval), which makes up the uppermost part of the atmosphere still affected by weather, is easy to recognize (beginning at 0:30). The extremely cold polar vortexes (after 2:05, pink) are equally easy to identify.