Temperature Inversion

Temperature Inversion Definition

Temperature inversion is a natural phenomenon that prevents air circulation when the weather is cold. It prevents the above mentioned layer to wash up and clear the pollutants and thus health risks increase as the atmosphere becomes toxic

On Earth there are layers of cold and warm air. These layers are located in any geographical area depending on altitude, climate, season and even time period of day light. Normally, these layers are sandwiched specifically: warmer layers remain close to the surface and the cold layers occupy the higher levels.

During the day time, the sun warms the air close to the Earth’s surface. Under normal conditions this hot air expands and rises away from the surface, carrying the contaminants into the troposphere.

However, it sometimes happens that a layer of cold air is trapped underneath a warm layer, because of the higher density of the cold air and it prevents them from forming updrafts and contaminants can’t be  washed away.

When the air layer pattern is reversed, then the phenomenon called temperature inversion occurs. Temperature inversions last only a few hours, but there have been cases where they remain for several days.

When temperature inversion happens and air pollutants begin to accumulate (increasing its concentration) it causes causing serious consequences to the health of living beings.  Generally, the temperature inversion is terminated (breaks) when the soil is heated and restores normal circulation in the troposphere. The weather phenomenon typically occurs on cold mornings in the valleys of low air circulation.

Recommendations to get protected when temperature inversion happens:

  • Check pollution levels that are generated by the monitoring network to see if is reaching dangerous levels for the population (air quality index; aqi) .
  • The car is an emitter of greenhouse gases: do not use if it is not essential or you share it with others helping to reduce vehicular load on the avenues of the city.
  • Use public transport instead of private vehicles. This will reduce air pollution significantly.
  • Keep your vehicle in good condition: tires, filters, exhaust pipes etc…
  •  Respect the green areas of the city.
  • Do not light open fires because they generate smoke and pollute the air.
  • Do not practice outdoor activities or sports, when there are high levels of pollution which  may be adversely affect your health.

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