Keyword Analysis & Research: warm air rises cold air sinks

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why does warm air rise and cold air sink?

Conventional knowledge has it that warm air rises while cold air sinks. But a study from the University of California, Davis, found that in the tropical atmosphere, cold air rises due to an overlooked effect — the lightness of water vapor. This effect helps to stabilize tropical climates and buffer some of the impacts of a warming climate.

Why is the Great Basin so cold?

This wintry interior air mass is significantly colder than the air at sea level in Southern California. Because cold air is heavier than warm air, gravity plays a role. The Great Basin’s valleys range in elevation from 2,000 to 6,000 feet. So as this air descends toward lower pressure at the coast, it heats up and dries out due to compression.

What happens when warm air rises?

Therefore, when warm air rises, the air may not be able anymore to hold all the water that it has. Then the water will come “out of the air” and form very tiny drops– this is a cloud. If there is a lot of water, the drops can get bigger and bigger until they are heavy enough that they fall from the sky – it rains.

Does warm air rise or sink in the tropics?

Sometimes, cool air rises and warm air sinks — and that helps the tropics cool off. You may have once learned that "warm air rises, and cool air sinks." But that doesn't always hold true.

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