Great Basin National Park contains the Snake Range, which rises abruptly out of the deserts of Utah and Nevada to as high at 13,063 feet at the summit of Wheeler Peak.
|Wheeler Peak (center) and the Snake Range of Great Basin National Park|
This puts you near the base of the spectacular, glacially carved alpine ridge of Wheeler Peak.
A 4 mile hike then puts you on the top of Wheeler Peak, nearly 8000 feet above the surrounding desert.
|Looking from near the summit of Wheeler Peak, |
northeast down Lehman Canyon toward the Snake Valley
|Looking from near the summit of Wheeler Peak, northwest toward the|
Typically in the atmosphere the lapse rate does not exceed the dry adiabatic lapse rate of ~9.8C/km. When the lapse rate is this large, density is constant with height. Any larger and you have lower density air beneath higher density air, and buoyancy driven turbulence (e.g., thermals) tends to mix the atmosphere to a lapse rate that is dry adiabatic.
A larger mean lapse rate exists in the Elko sounding because the layer near the Earth's surface is superadiabatic (i.e., greater than dry adiabatic). Such layers are often found in the afternoon when intense surface heating warms the atmosphere faster than the thermals can mix it back to dry adiabatic. They are very common over the Great Basin.
The temperatures we experienced on Wheeler Peak were, in general, somewhat warmer than found in the Elko sounding. For example, we observed 21C at the Wheeler Peak campground at about 2:00 PM MST. This higher temperature reflects surface heating, which typically leads to somewhat higher temperatures over mountains during the afternoon than in the free atmosphere.
The lapse rate isn't always large. Sometimes the lapse rate is quite small or even negative (i.e., temperature increases with height), as is the case when an inversion is present. Your mileage may vary, but during the summer in the Great Basin, you can usually count on an afternoon lapse rate ~9.8C/km.