Thursday, June 30, 2011

Atmospheric pressure

Atmospheric pressure is the force per unit area exerted against a surface by the weight of air above that surface in the Earth's atmosphere. In most circumstances atmospheric pressure is closely approximated by the hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of air above the measurement point. Low pressure areas have less atmospheric mass above their location, whereas high pressure areas have more atmospheric mass above their location.

Similarly, as elevation increases there is less overlying atmospheric mass, so that pressure decreases with increasing elevation. A column of air one square centimetre in cross-section, measured from sea level to the top of the atmosphere, has a mass of about a kilogram and a weight of 63N (and a column one inch in cross-section would weigh about 14 lb).
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