Why is it colder at higher altitudes despite being closer to the sun?


Why is it colder at higher altitudes despite being closer to the sun?

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There are less things the sun can heat up as you go higher, like less air particles and everything so generally it’s colder the higher you go

This is a very frequently asked question on this sub. Please [search first](https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/search?q=colder+higher&restrict_sr=on) – it comes up once a week or so.

The Earth is 93.6 million miles away from the Sun. The difference in altitude is negligible compared to the total distance.

1. The ~5 miles closer to the Sun you can get by by boarding a commercial jet or climbing the world’s tallest mountain is totally negligible compared to the *93 million* miles between the Earth and the Sun.

2. The energy that the Earth receives from the Sun travels through the vacuum of space as light, which mostly passes straight through the atmosphere. It only turns to heat when it hits the ground and is absorbed. From there, the lowest layer of the atmosphere is headed via direct contact with the warm ground. As fast-moving air molecules move up and away from the surface, gravity acts against them to slow them down, sapping their energy, and they also radiate away their heat energy as infrared light, some of which escapes into space forever.

its because you’re farther away from the earth’s core, which keeps the earth warmer at lower altitudes. the sun is so far away that for you to meaningfully change the distance between you & it, i think you would have to leave earth. like you’re at higher risk for uv damage at higher altitudes not because you’re closer to the sun, but because there’s less atmosphere to protect you up there