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Altitudinal temperature lapse rates in an Alpine valley: trends and the influence of season and weather patterns


  • [Correction added 17 April 2012 after original online publication: in the title the words ‘in an’ were added.]


The vertical temperature structure in the area of Garmisch-Partenkirchen between the Loisach river valley and the highest mountain in Germany (Zugspitze, 2962 m a.s.l.) is analysed. Using long time series (1936–2008) of daily mean, minimum and maximum temperatures from two meteorological stations, in the valley floor and on the mountain top, we studied seasonal variations in temperature lapse rates. By using daily data on weather types, significantly different altitudinal temperature lapse rates and daily temperature ranges for low and high pressure weather situations were found. There was no significant influence of snow cover in the valley on the lapse rate. At both stations, there has been an increase in temperature during recent decades. As there was a slight difference between these trends, the lapse rate has tended to become more negative, i.e. the difference between the mountain top and the valley has become more pronounced. In order to investigate the lapse rates in more detail, unpublished temperature data from 1989 to 1990 on slope transects near Garmisch-Partenkirchen were evaluated. Despite the fact that an exact description of the vertical structure of the atmospheric temperature is possible only from free air measurements, there are some indications that major inversions occur in the first 500 m above the valley ground, depending on season, weather situation and time of day. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society

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