Does gravity impact the speed of sound?

Gravity does have an impact on the speed of sound, but the effect is generally small and is more noticeable in certain conditions.

The speed of sound in air is affected by several factors, and gravity is one of them. In general, the speed of sound increases with an increase in temperature and decreases with an increase in molecular weight of the medium. Gravity comes into play because it affects the density of the air.

The speed of sound can be calculated using the formula:



  • v is the speed of sound,
  • γ is the adiabatic index (ratio of specific heats),
  • P is the pressure of the medium,
  • ρ is the density of the medium.

Gravity affects the density of air, and at higher altitudes where gravity is slightly weaker, the density of the air is lower. As a result, the speed of sound is slightly lower at higher altitudes.

In practical terms, the effect of gravity on the speed of sound is relatively small unless you are dealing with significant changes in altitude. For most everyday situations, variations in temperature have a more significant impact on the speed of sound than changes in gravity.

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