What is a surface inversion?
Surface temperature inversions occur when air temperature increases with height from the ground surface, which is the opposite of what normally happens (i.e. the temperature profile is 'inverted'). This results in a layer of cool, still air being trapped below warmer air.
Temperature inversion, a reversal of the normal behaviour of temperature in the troposphere (the region of the atmosphere nearest the Earth's surface), in which a layer of cool air at the surface is overlain by a layer of warmer air. (Under normal conditions air temperature usually decreases with height.)
- A roller coaster inversion is a roller coaster element in which the track turns riders upside-down and then returns them to an upright position.
- An Ozone Action Day is declared when weather conditions are likely to combine with pollution emissions to form high levels of ozone near the ground that may cause harmful health effects. People and businesses should take action to reduce emissions of ozone-causing pollutants.
- Radiation inversions are the most common type of inversion. In some places, they occur almost nightly. Radiation inversions generally happen in places where it cools off a lot at night. During the night, the ground cools off, radiating the heat to the sky. Hence, an inversion.
temperature inversion, condition in which the temperature of the atmosphere increases with altitude in contrast to the normal decrease with altitude. When temperature inversion occurs, cold air underlies warmer air at higher altitudes.
- This rise in temperature is caused by the absorption of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Sun by the ozone layer. Such a temperature profile creates very stable atmospheric conditions, and the stratosphere lacks the air turbulence that is so prevalent in the troposphere.
- Temperature inversions affect air pollution because they change the dynamics of air movement. Warm air rises in the atmosphere because it is less dense and, therefore, more buoyant than the cooler air above it. However, a temperature inversion prevents this vertical movement, also known as convection.
- In other seasons or weather conditions, warm air sits near the ground and the air can rise easily and carry away pollutants. In a temperature inversion, cold air is trapped near the ground by a layer of warm air. The warm air acts like a lid, holding these substances down.
Updated: 3rd October 2019