Asked Dec 25, 2019

On a clear, cold night, why does frost tend to form on the tops, rather than the sides, of mailboxes and cars?


Expert Answer


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The temperature of the surface determines the formation of the frost. Frost form on the cold surface and it does not form on the hot surface. Ground absorbs heat from the sun all day. During night the temperature near the ground is greater than at the temperature at higher altitudes. So, top of the mail boxes and cars are cooler than the side and bottom surfaces. Also, the top surface is direct facing the sky and the thermal radiations coming from the sky during night is less compared to the thermal radiations of the surrounding on the bottom and sides of the mail boxes and cars. Conclusion: Top surface remains cooler and so frost forms of the top surface.


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