barometric pressure.) The pressure
exerted by the atmosphere
as a consequence of gravitational attraction exerted upon the "column" of air lying directly above the point in question.
As with any gas, the pressure exerted by the atmosphere is ultimately explainable in terms of bombardment by gas molecules; it is independent of the orientation of the surface on which it acts. Atmospheric pressure is one of the basic meteorological elements. It is measured by many varieties of barometer
and is expressed in several unit systems. The most common unit used is the millibar
(1 millibar equals 1000 dynes cm-2
). Unique to the science of meteorology is the use of inches (or millimeters) of mercury, that is, the height of a column of mercury that exactly balances the weight of the column of atmosphere the base of which coincides with that of the mercury column
. Also employed are units of weight per area and units of force per area. A standard atmosphere
has been defined in terms of equivalence to each of the above unit systems, and it is used as a unit itself. See actual pressure
, station pressure
, sea level pressure
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