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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. What do you understand by the phenomenon of the inversion of temperature? Examine how does it impact the atmosphere and the weather.(150 words)

    28 Sep, 2020 GS Paper 1 Geography


    • In the introduction, define the term temperature inversion.
    • Explain the favourable conditions that lead to temperature inversion.
    • Discuss the impact of temperature inversion on the atmosphere and the weather.
    • Conclude by summarising your answer.


    • Temperature inversion is a reversal of the normal behavior of temperature in the troposphere. Under this meteorological phenomenon a layer of warm air lies over the cold air layer.
    • It is caused in stac atmospheric conditions while some times, it occurs due to horizontal or vertical movement of air.
    • Temperature inversion is usually of short duration but quite common nonetheless


    Favourable conditions for temperature inversion

    • Long winter nights: Loss of heat by terrestrial radiation from the ground surface during night may exceed the amount of incoming solar radiation.
    • Cloudless and clear sky: Loss of heat through terrestrial radiation proceeds more rapidly without any obstruction.
    • Dry air near the ground surface: It limits the absorption of the radiated heat from the Earth’s surface.
    • Slow movement of air: It results in no transfer or mixing of heat in the lower layers of the atmosphere.
    • Snow covered ground surface: It results in maximum loss of heat through reflection of incoming solar radiation.

    Effects on atmosphere and weather

    • Temperature inversion determines the precipitation, forms of clouds, and also causes frost due to condensation of warm air due to its cooling.
    • Dust particles hanging in the air: Due to inversion of temperature, air pollutants such as dust particles and smoke do not disperse on the surface.
    • Stops the movement of air: It causes the stability of the atmosphere that stops the downward and upward movement of air.
    • Less rainfall: Convection clouds can not move high upwards so there is less rainfall and no showers. So, it causes a problem for agricultural productivity.
    • Lower visibility: Fog is formed due to the situation of warm air above and cold air below, and hence visibility is reduced which causes disturbance in transportation.
    • Thunderstorms and tornadoes: Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes are also associated with inversion of temperature because of the intense energy that is released after an inversion blocks an area’s normal convention patterns.
    • Diurnal variations in temperature tend to be very small.


    To conclude, temperature inversion might be a desirable phenomena when it comes to cooler air temperatures, and comfort after an extremely hot and oppressive day, the after-effects on air quality are certainly not desirable.

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