What is Air? | Pressure | Stable & Unstable | Volume | Weather Front | Layers

Stable and Unstable Air

Weather is strongly affected by how stable or unstable the atmosphere is. Stable air means that the weather is likely to be calm. It may rain or snow slowly and steadily, it may be sunny, but the weather will not change quickly. Unstable air means that the weather might change quickly with very little warning. Unstable air leads to sudden thunderstorms.

What makes the atmosphere stable or unstable? Picture an invisible box of air called an air parcel. If we compare the temperature of this air parcel to the temperature of air surrounding it, we can tell if it is stable (likely to remain in place) or unstable (likely to move). Click below to see the animation of stable and unstable air parcels.

Click to see examples of stable and unstable air!