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Old 12-05-2011, 02:31 PM
 
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i dont really care about this but i noticed heat goes up the 2nd floor of my house when i use a heater. so heat goes up.

but how come it's colder on top of the mountain than bottom of the mountain?
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Old 12-05-2011, 02:50 PM
 
Location: Mayacama Mtns in CA
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The simple answer in layman's terms is the difference between an enclosed space and outdoors. Indoors, the air is contained and so will continue to get warmer as long as there is a heat source.

The heating of the inner atmosphere (outdoors, in simple terms) is determined by things such as wind, moisture and elevation. The winds blowing at 9 or 12 thousand feet are generally faster and colder.

And. . .someone else will come along to reply who has much more knowledge than do I.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:36 PM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brom View Post
i dont really care about this but i noticed heat goes up the 2nd floor of my house when i use a heater. so heat goes up.

but how come it's colder on top of the mountain than bottom of the mountain?
Warm air is less dense, so it rises. As it rises in the atmosphere, the pressure decreases and the air expands and cool. In your house the air doesn't rise enough to expand significantly, so your second story is warmer.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:15 PM
 
Location: Michigan--good on the rocks
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Heat dissipates. Indoors, it has limited space to do so and more objects (including air particles) to retain it. On top of a mountain it has basically unlimited room to dissipate and fewer objects to retain it.

My oversimplified 2 cents.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:44 PM
 
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It often ISN'T colder at the top of a mountain. In still wind conditions, cold sinks, and there are frost pockets in the valleys while the mountains are above freezing. There are a lot of factors that enter into which places are cold and which are warm.

FWIW, the question would get more reliable answers posted in the weather forum.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:26 AM
 
Location: Va. Beach
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Part of the answer has to deal with density, observed in an earlier post. As the air rises, it expands and becomes less dense. To expand requires energy, which is in the form of heat energy, which makes along with higher winds, for a colder temperature.

It's the same thing with the refrigerant in your AC, condensed into a liquid, when it expands into a gas, the energy for the expansion is provided in the form of heat
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
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Heat doesn't go up, heated air does.
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Old 12-11-2011, 01:42 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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^^^ Exactly what I was going to say. Furthermore, heated air stops going up when other factors in the atmosphere lower the air pressure at high elevations, so an equilibrium is reached where even warmed surface air stops rising when air that is lower in pressure because the the thinning of air at higher levels. Actually, warm air does not rise because of any intrinsic quality---rather, cooler air at surface pressure sinks to the earth's surface because it is denser and heavier, and that displaces the thinner warmer air, which then has nowhere to go but up. So heat doesn't rise, but cold sinks, as long as the cold is at surface pressure unaffected by altitudinal thinning, which is a local phenomenon.

Just thinking out loud there. Not sure if that is right or not.
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Old 12-11-2011, 05:29 AM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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Originally Posted by duster1979 View Post
Heat doesn't go up, heated air does.
Not quite sure what your point is, but I don't think you're right. Heat goes up because of heated air rising. Convection is one of the three mechanisms of heat transfer (conduction and radiation are the other two, both typically move heat up, as well) .
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jayrandom View Post
Not quite sure what your point is, but I don't think you're right. Heat goes up because of heated air rising. Convection is one of the three mechanisms of heat transfer (conduction and radiation are the other two, both typically move heat up, as well) .
You're both right and wrong if you want to get technical. Hot air gets forced up by colder air, because the gravitational pull of the earth is stronger on the more dense, cold air. To make room for the cold air, the hot air must be pushed out of the way. Thus, it gets pushed up. Rising is not a property of heat. The heat just takes a ride with the air that gets pushed up.

So, essentially, the heat does end up rising. But it is due to gravity and displacement.

Now, below is my OPINION on the question in the OP:

The higher you get, the less dense the air gets due to gravity. Density plays a part in how much energy can be absorbed by matter. This is why higher density materials such as metal and glass retain heat longer than lower density materials such as wood. So, since the air is less dense at the top of a mountain, it cannot absorb much heat, thus creating a colder climate.
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