Does the season affect the temperature change in relation to altitude? For example, will the temperature increase in summer and decrease in winter?I noticed while driving recently that the...

Does the season affect the temperature change in relation to altitude? For example, will the temperature increase in summer and decrease in winter?

I noticed while driving recently that the temperature on the car temperature gauge showed a higher temperature when increasing altitude. Weather was very hot 33 degrees Celsius.

Expert Answers
enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many variables that determine the temperature at a given locale, and none more so than around a mountain.  In general, as seasons change, so the temperatures correspond; however, mountainous areas may have their own micro-climate which can wildly alter the temperature regardless of season.  The White Mountains in New Hampshire, for example, have been known to have a 50 degree temperature fluctuation in as many minutes! So a pleasant June day turned freezing.

Hotter air rises, cooler air sinks.  Typically, in the morning the valley is cooler than the mountainside.  However, if there's a wind, cold air may be forced up, and the temperature may drop as you stand on the mountainside. Depending upon height, the air may be thin enough so that it loses much of its insulating properties, and the heat escapes and makes the mountaintop cold.  If a front is moving in, sometimes there's an inversion, where the cold air is layered on top of the warm air; this makes for fluctuating temperatures which do not necessarily correspond with altitude. Finally, depending upon the topology and weather patterns, warm air may be trapped at altitude on a still day, so that it becomes warmer as you ascend. If you're describing a bright, sunny day, I'm guessing this last example is close to what you experienced.