From Glossary of Meteorology
Redirect page

Redirect to:


An instrument that determines the altitude of an object with respect to a fixed level.

There are several types of altimeters: 1) the pressure altimeter, which measures barometric pressure and converts it to altitude above sea level when referenced to the existing measured sea level barometric pressure, or to pressure altitude when referenced to a standard pressure; 2) the radio or radar altimeter, which deduces altitude by measuring the time it takes a radio signal to travel from a transmitter to the underlying surface and back to the receiver; and 3) the Global Positioning System (GPS), which determines altitude by measuring time of travel of radio signals between GPS-equipped satellites and the receiver.

Copyright 2022 American Meteorological Society (AMS). For permission to reuse any portion of this work, please contact [email protected]. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 U.S. Code § 107) or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S.Copyright Act (17 USC § 108) does not require AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, require written permission or a license from AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement.