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Is the atmosphere getting warmer at higher altitudes?

Last week I flew from Monchengladbach to Siena and back. Both flights at FL140 @2-4 dC. However, temperature in Italy on the ground was 30 dC. Therefore 2dC is the natural result of 2C / 1000ft (2 × 14 = 28). Germany less so, but still not below 0.

Safe landings !
EDLN, Germany

I’d call this normal summer temps. Remember flying at FL170 with the Mooney at an 0 degrees C OAT. Made 22’000 ft DA if I remember right.2011 if I am not mistaken.

As for the original question, not normally but not unheard of either. It can happen under different conditions, e.g. starting from a prefrontal cold air into a warm front or during inversion conditions or if wind direction changes with height.

LSZH, Switzerland

It may be “normal” but when I started flying IFR in 2005 I would regularly see temps like -15C to -25C in May or September, FL180, whereas in the last 2-3 years it has been 10C or more warmer.

But surface temps have hardly changed.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

But surface temps have hardly changed.
Do you measure surface temperature as keenly and with the same accuracy as you do altitude temperature though?
ESMK, Sweden

I think that if surface temps in say September were repeatedly 10C warmer, somebody would notice.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

It may be “normal” but when I started flying IFR in 2005 I would regularly see temps like -15C to -25C in May or September, FL180, whereas in the last 2-3 years it has been 10C or more warmer.

But surface temps have hardly changed.

I can not really comment on this as it has not been mentioned in any kind of updates we have seen. However, there are a multitude of reasons why this may happen. What is certainly true is that in recent years, we have had quite prolonged summers, some starting early and finishing late, as right now. This however is a cyclic thing, I remember the 1970ties where we had hot and long summers, then a period in the 1990ties and early 2000’s when Summers here hardly deserved the name. What happens right now is quite fine with me.

Surface temps have not changed per se but seasons have and they also have influenced the distribution of surface temperature. However, temps as we have them now in September with up to 28 degrees day temps are not abnormal at all, this period of late summer has different names in different places, but is well known. (Indian Summer being one more popular in the US). I quite enjoy the one we are having right now.

LSZH, Switzerland
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