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Why is warm air less dense than cold air even though the colder it gets the higher it gets and the less dense it is?

so warm air is less dense than cold. as altitude increases, density decreases, and it gets colder! why???????????? it makes no sense. please explain.  cant remember and my daughter needs help.

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teentweenstyle

Asked by teentweenstyle at 9:18 PM on Mar. 21, 2011 in Tweens (9-12)

Level 5 (77 Credits)
Answers (2)
  • The simplest answer is that gasses heat up when compressed and cool when they expand. Air pressure at ground level is about 14.2 PSI. Air at 35k feet is at 3.2 PSI.

    That said, there are other contributing factors to the air being warmer closer to ground that have to do with the environmental conditions. Are there clouds? They can insulate. How about rain? Water vapor gives off heat as it condenses into water.

    BuddyRoo

    Answer by BuddyRoo at 1:46 PM on Mar. 22, 2011

  • okay.... thanks. which types of molecules are farther apart? cold or warm?
    teentweenstyle

    Comment by teentweenstyle (original poster) at 9:12 PM on Mar. 22, 2011

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