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Atmospheric
Stability
• Concepts are applied to
motions of air parcels in the
atmosphere
• The topic of stability in
atmospheric science is
important because the
formation of clouds is closely
related to stability or
instability in the atmosphere.
Adiabatic Lapse Rate
• Adiabatic processes do not exchange heat and they are reversible.
• For an air parcel, this means that no thermal energy is entering or
leaving the air parcel from the outside. However, internal processes
are allowed
• However, temperature changes in the air parcel can still occur, but it is
not due to mixing, it is due to changes in the internal energy of the air
parcel.
• To summarize, rising air parcels expand and cool adiabatically without
exchanging heat with the environment.
Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate
• If an air parcel is dry, meaning
unsaturated, stability is relatively
straightforward.
• An atmosphere where the
environmental lapse rate is the same
as the dry adiabatic lapse rate,
meaning that the temperature in the
environment also drops by 9.8 K·km-1,
will be considered neutrally stable.
• After some initial vertical
displacement, the temperature of the
air parcel will always be the same as
the environment so no further change
in position is expected.
Air rises, expands, and cools at the dry adiabatic laps
rate, approximated as a 10°C decrease per km
Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate
• When water vapor condenses, it goes from a higher energy
state to a lower energy state. Energy is never created nor
destroyed, especially in phase changes, the energy gets
released in the form of latent heat.
• As latent heat is added from the process of condensation, it
offsets some of the adiabatic cooling from expansion.
• Because of this, the air parcel will no longer cool at the dry
adiabatic lapse rate, but will cool as a slower rate, known as
the moist adiabatic lapse rate.
The atmosphere is said to be absolutely stable if the environmental lapse rate is less than the moist adiabatic
lapse rate. This means that a rising air parcel will always cool at a faster rate than the environment, even after it
reaches saturation. If an air parcel is cooler at all levels, then it will not be able to rise, even after it becomes
saturated
• The atmosphere is said to be absolutely unstable if the environmental lapse rate is greater than the dry adiabatic
lapse rate. This means that a rising air parcel will always cool at a slower rate than the environment, even when it
is unsaturated. This means that it will be warmer (and less dense) than the environment, and allowed to rise.
• The atmosphere is said to be conditionally unstable if the environmental lapse rate is between the moist and dry
adiabatic lapse rates. This means that the buoyancy (the ability of an air parcel to rise) of an air parcel depends
on whether or not it is saturated.
Air quality, Atmospheric stability and measure of air quality
Air quality, Atmospheric stability and measure of air quality
Air quality, Atmospheric stability and measure of air quality
Air quality, Atmospheric stability and measure of air quality
Air quality, Atmospheric stability and measure of air quality
Air quality, Atmospheric stability and measure of air quality
Air quality, Atmospheric stability and measure of air quality

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Air quality, Atmospheric stability and measure of air quality

  • 1. Atmospheric Stability • Concepts are applied to motions of air parcels in the atmosphere • The topic of stability in atmospheric science is important because the formation of clouds is closely related to stability or instability in the atmosphere.
  • 2. Adiabatic Lapse Rate • Adiabatic processes do not exchange heat and they are reversible. • For an air parcel, this means that no thermal energy is entering or leaving the air parcel from the outside. However, internal processes are allowed • However, temperature changes in the air parcel can still occur, but it is not due to mixing, it is due to changes in the internal energy of the air parcel. • To summarize, rising air parcels expand and cool adiabatically without exchanging heat with the environment.
  • 3. Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate • If an air parcel is dry, meaning unsaturated, stability is relatively straightforward. • An atmosphere where the environmental lapse rate is the same as the dry adiabatic lapse rate, meaning that the temperature in the environment also drops by 9.8 K·km-1, will be considered neutrally stable. • After some initial vertical displacement, the temperature of the air parcel will always be the same as the environment so no further change in position is expected. Air rises, expands, and cools at the dry adiabatic laps rate, approximated as a 10°C decrease per km
  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6. Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate • When water vapor condenses, it goes from a higher energy state to a lower energy state. Energy is never created nor destroyed, especially in phase changes, the energy gets released in the form of latent heat. • As latent heat is added from the process of condensation, it offsets some of the adiabatic cooling from expansion. • Because of this, the air parcel will no longer cool at the dry adiabatic lapse rate, but will cool as a slower rate, known as the moist adiabatic lapse rate.
  • 7.
  • 8.
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12. The atmosphere is said to be absolutely stable if the environmental lapse rate is less than the moist adiabatic lapse rate. This means that a rising air parcel will always cool at a faster rate than the environment, even after it reaches saturation. If an air parcel is cooler at all levels, then it will not be able to rise, even after it becomes saturated
  • 13.
  • 14. • The atmosphere is said to be absolutely unstable if the environmental lapse rate is greater than the dry adiabatic lapse rate. This means that a rising air parcel will always cool at a slower rate than the environment, even when it is unsaturated. This means that it will be warmer (and less dense) than the environment, and allowed to rise. • The atmosphere is said to be conditionally unstable if the environmental lapse rate is between the moist and dry adiabatic lapse rates. This means that the buoyancy (the ability of an air parcel to rise) of an air parcel depends on whether or not it is saturated.