temperature gradient

noun Meteorology.
rate of change of temperature with distance.
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World English Dictionary
temperature gradient
the rate of change in temperature in a given direction, esp in altitude

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
temperature gradient  
The rate of change of temperature with displacement in a given direction from a given reference point.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
If a steady temperature gradient exists, however, light will follow a curved
  path toward the cooler air.
Instead of raining out the storm it might cause intensification due to
  increased temperature gradient.
For besides providing safe harbor for the development of life, vents offer a
  natural temperature gradient.
Thus a steep temperature gradient is present within the material itself.
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