Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Warmer mountaintops?

by kathyz, This post originally appeared at Function of a Rubber Duck.

Are facts always true? Not necessarily. In the BC Science 10 textbook, the following is stated: “The temperature in the troposphere drops by about 6.5ÂșC for every 1 km increase in altitude.“ Which makes sense, because the floor of the Earth is warmed by radioactive decay and residual heat, so the further up, the colder. However…..(dun dun dunnn)
Last weekend [Ed Note: Post originally appeared on January 26, 2013], I went skiing on Mount Seymour on a typical gray winter day. It was about 3 °C in Burnaby, and I was prepared for 0°C, or even below zero, weather. Except things didn’t go as planned: as the car winded up the road, the thermometer went from 3, to 4, to 5, 6, 7…and stopped somewhere around 8°C. Isn’t the temperature supposed to drop with increasing altitude? Given that Mount Seymour is around 1,449m high, it should’ve been -5 to -6°C!
It was when I reached the top that I realized why it was warmer up top than below. Ususally, looking down from the tracks would give you a view like this:
(Okay, this picture was taken at night, but the point is that you can get a pretty good view of the city below.)
What I saw was something more like this:
In case the amazing art skills didn’t get the message across, all that there was underneath was a blanket of clouds. The city, lights, buildings were completely covered, with the exception of a couple high rises poking their roofs out. It was an almost religious experience. There, before me, was a broad and unhindered view of Vancouver, minus all the infrastructure and traces of humanity. For once, the land that’s home to more than 600 thousand people was depicted with emptiness, and in this emptiness, the natural state of Vancouver was revealed. The clouds themselves acted like a cloak to mask the scars of civilization and instead show us a side of the land that, with population on the rise and endless development in the cities, is becoming more and more rare in all the corners of the world.
But that awakening wasn’t the only positive side to the ski trip. With the clouds far below, I was able to enjoy full-on sunshine throughout the day, while all the other poor Vancouverites were trapped under a heavy, miserable layer of clouds.

So the next time you are to memorize a fact and take it as the truth, remember that no matter how reliable the source may seem, there’s an exception for almost everything. Go out and have some fun, and perhaps you will, like I have, discover some of these exceptions for yourself.

About this contributor: Kathyz is an idoyncratic gr10 student who loves playing the piano, flute and violin and enjoys reading historical fiction and Edgar Allan Poe. She completes jigsaw puzzles in her spare time and aspires to learn Latin as well as publish a children's book in the near future.

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