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lapse rate

noun, Meteorology
the rate of decrease of atmospheric temperature with increase of elevation vertically above a given location.
Origin of lapse rate
1915-20 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for lapse rate
  • Follow the lapse rate down and you get a higher temperature at the surface.
  • Post cold-frontal conditions are best for thermals, when the lapse rate is high.
  • We call temperature change with height the lapse rate.
  • Standard lapse rate is likely what you are referring to and is measured by traveling up through the atmosphere.
  • Thunderstorm potential based on vertical temperature lapse rate and moisture content.
  • The lack of mixing is often the result of a small lapse rate or even a temperature inversion.
British Dictionary definitions for lapse rate

lapse rate

the rate of change of any meteorological factor with altitude, esp atmospheric temperature, which usually decreases at a rate of 0.6°C per 100 metres (environmental lapse rate). Unsaturated air loses about 1°C per 100 m (dry adiabatic lapse rate), whereas saturated air loses an average 0.5°C per 100 m (saturated adiabatic lapse rate)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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lapse rate in Science
lapse rate
The rate of change of any meteorological phenomenon, especially atmospheric temperature with altitude. The lapse rate varies depending on the ground temperature, time of year (for example, in the Northern hemisphere it is lower in the winter), whether the air is over land or ocean water, and what the degree of moisture is. ◇ The dry adiabatic lapse rate is the lapse rate of a dry mass of air which expands and cools as it rises. This rate is typically -9.8°C (-14.36°F) per 1,000 m (3,280 ft). ◇ The saturated adiabatic lapse rate is the lapse rate of a wet mass of air, which slows down once the dew point has been reached and condensation has started to form. This rate ranges from 4°C (39.2°F) per 1,000 m (3,280 ft) to 9°C (48.2°F) per 1,000 m (3,280 ft).
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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