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lapse rate

rate of change in temperature observed while moving upward through the Earth's atmosphere. The lapse rate is considered positive when the temperature decreases with elevation, zero when the temperature is constant with elevation, and negative when the temperature increases with elevation (temperature inversion). The lapse rate of nonrising air-commonly referred to as the normal, or environmental, lapse rate-is highly variable, being affected by radiation, convection, and condensation; it averages about 6.5 C per kilometre (18.8 F per mile) in the lower atmosphere (troposphere). It differs from the adiabatic lapse rate, which involves temperature changes due to the rising or sinking of an air parcel. Adiabatic lapse rates are usually differentiated as dry or moist

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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