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Myth vs Reality: Temperature in Earth's Atmosphere

This short segment addresses the misconception that air temperature always increases with altitude. 


Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory (


A blue hexagon appears in the middle of a gray background split into two halves by a line, A banner is outlined in light blue for the title, Myth vs Reality, An illustration with sea serpents surrounding a ship is above Myth, A layers of blue and red floating above Earth's surface is above reality, The Myth side is highlighted, Text, The air gets hotter as you move higher above the ground.
The reality side is highlighted, Text, In the troposphere, the layer of the atmosphere closest to Earth's surface, air temperature decreases with altitude, This occurs in part because air is heated primarily by the ground, not directly by the Sun, Air near the ground is warmer than air at the top of the troposphere