Tropopause Height MET

The height of the tropopause varies for two main reasons:

  1. The air at the equator is being "flung outwards" on account of the higher speed of travel.
  2. The air expands as it is hotter closer to the equator.

Both of these factors have the effect of making the height of the tropopause vary with latitude, with it being greater at the equator. You can imagine this as a flattened oval (the tropopause) surrounding a circle (the earth).

To answer the question, draw this diagram, mark where you are on the circle and then put an arrow in the direction you are travelling, and this will answer the question.

You are also required to have a rough knowledge of the heights of the tropopause:

  • About 16km at the equator
  • About 11km at mid-latitudes
  • About 8km at the poles

The heights at mid latitudes and the poles will vary with the seasons due to changing temperatures, but the one at the equator does not, as it is always hot. As well as for this type of question, bear in mind the jetstreams are just under the tropopause and so this knowledge can be useful there too.

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