# One Atmospheric Pressure. Measurement of Atmos. Pressure. Units of Atmospheric Pressure. Chapter 4: Pressure and Wind

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1 Chapter 4: Pressure and Wind Pressure, Measurement, Distribution Hydrostatic Balance Pressure Gradient and Coriolis Force Geostrophic Balance Upper and Near-Surface Winds One Atmospheric Pressure (from The Blue Planet) The average air pressure at sea level is equivalent to the pressure produced by a column of water about 10 meters (or about 76 cm of mercury column). This standard atmosphere pressure is often expressed as 1013 mb (millibars), which means a pressure of about 1 kilogram per square centimeter (14.7lbs/in 2 ). Units of Atmospheric Pressure Pascal (Pa): a SI (Systeme Internationale) unit for air pressure. 1 Pa = force of 1 newton acting on a surface of one square meter 1 hectopascal (hpa) = 1 millibar (mb) [hecto = one hundred =100] Bar: a more popular unit for air pressure. 1 bar = 1000 hpa = 1000 mb One atmospheric pressure = standard value of atmospheric pressure at lea level = mb = hpa. Measurement of Atmos. Pressure Mercury Barometers Height of mercury indicates downward force of air pressure Three barometric corrections must be made to ensure homogeneity of pressure readings First corrects for elevation, the second for air temperature (affects density of mercury), and the third involves a slight correction for gravity with latitude Aneroid Barometers Use a collapsible chamber which compresses proportionally to air pressure Requires only an initial adjustment for elevation 1

2 Pressure Correction for Elevation Aneroid barometer (left) and its workings (right) Pressure decreases with height. Recording actual pressures may be misleading as a result. All recording stations are reduced to sea level pressure equivalents to facilitate horizontal comparisons. Near the surface, the pressure decreases about 100mb by moving 1km higher in elevation. A barograph continually records air pressure through time Isobar Northern Winter (January) It is useful to examine horizontal pressure differences across space. Pressure maps depict isobars, lines of equal pressure. Through analysis of isobaric charts, pressure gradients are apparent. Steep (weak) pressure gradients are indicated by closely (widely) spaced isobars. 2

3 Northern Summer (July) Pressure Gradients Pressure Gradients The pressure gradient force initiates movement of atmospheric mass, wind, from areas of higher to areas of lower pressure Horizontal Pressure Gradients Typically only small gradients exist across large spatial scales (1mb/100km) Smaller scale weather features, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, display larger pressure gradients across small areas (1mb/6km) Vertical Pressure Gradients Average vertical pressure gradients are usually greater than extreme examples of horizontal pressure gradients as pressure always decreases with altitude (1mb/10m) Hydrostatic Balance in the Vertical vertical pressure force = gravitational force - (dp) x (da) = ρ x (dz) x (da) x g dp = -ρgdz dp/dz = -ρg The hydrostatic balance!! What Does Hydrostatic Balance Tell Us? The hydrostatic equation tells us how quickly air pressure drops wit height. The rate at which air pressure decreases with height (ΔP/ Δz) is equal to the air density (ρ) times the acceleration of gravity (g) (from Climate System Modeling) 3

4 The Ideal Gas Law Hydrostatic Balance and Atmospheric Vertical Structure An equation of state describes the relationship among pressure, temperature, and density of any material. All gases are found to follow approximately the same equation of state, which is referred to as the ideal gas law (equation). Atmospheric gases, whether considered individually or as a mixture, obey the following ideal gas equation: P = ρ R T pressure Density=m/V temperature (degree Kelvin) gas constant (its value depends on the gas considered) (from Meteorology Today) Since P= ρrt (the ideal gas law), the hydrostatic equation becomes: dp = -P/RT x gdz dp/p = -g/rt x dz P = P s exp(-gz/rt) P = P s exp(-z/h) The atmospheric pressure decreases exponentially with height Temperature and Pressure Wind Changes with Height Hydrostatic balance tells us that the pressure decrease with height is determined by the temperature inside the vertical column. Pressure decreases faster in the cold-air column and slower in the warm-air column. Pressure drops more rapidly with height at high latitudes and lowers the height of the pressure surface. (from Weather & Climate) (from Understanding Weather & Climate) 4

5 Pressure Gradient Force Balance of Force in the Horizontal Upper Troposphere (free atmosphere) H (high pressure) pressure gradient force geostrophic balance (from Meteorology Today) L (low pressure) PG = (pressure difference) / distance Pressure gradient force goes from high pressure to low pressure. Closely spaced isobars on a weather map indicate steep pressure gradient. Can happen in the tropics where the Coriolis force is small. geostrophic balance plus frictional force (from Weather & Climate) Surface Force that Determines Wind Coriolis Force Pressure gradient force Coriolis force (Earth s Rotation) Friction (near Earth s surface) Centrifugal force U B U A (from The Earth System) First, Point A rotates faster than Point B (U A > U B ) U A > U B A northward motion starting at A will arrive to the east of B It looks like there is a force pushing the northward motion toward right This apparent force is called Coriolis force : Coriolis Force = f V where f = 2*Ω*Sin(lat) and Ω=7.292x10-5 rad s -1 5

6 Coriolis Force Coriolis Force Change with latitudes Coriolis force causes the wind to deflect to the right of its intent path in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. The magnitude of Coriolis force depends on (1) the rotation of the Earth, (2) the speed of the moving object, and (3) its latitudinal location. The stronger the speed (such as wind speed), the stronger the Coriolis force. The higher the latitude, the stronger the Coriolis force. The Corioils force is zero at the equator. Coriolis force is one major factor that determine weather pattern. (from The Atmosphere) Upper Atmospheric Winds Geostrophic Balance (from Weather & Climate) H L Coriolis force pressure gradient force By doing scale analysis, it has been shown that largescale and synoptic-scale weather system are in geostrophic balance. Geostrophic winds always follow the constant pressure lines (isobar). Therefore, we can figure out flow motion by looking at the pressure distribution. 6

7 Upper Atmosphere Geostrophic Flow Scales of Motions in the Atmosphere Cyclonic Flow Anticyclonic Flow Northern Hemisphere Southern Hemisphere (figures from Weather & Climate) Frictional Force A force of opposition which slows air in motion. Initiated at the surface and extend, decreasingly, aloft. H Surface Winds Coriolis force H Coriolis force Important for air within 1.5 km (1 mi) of the surface, the planetary boundary layer. Because friction reduces wind speed it also reduces Coriolis deflection. Friction above 1.5 km is negligible. Above 1.5 km = the free atmosphere. L Surface friction pressure gradient force Surface friction force slows down the geostrophic flow. The flow turns into (out of) the low (high) press sides. Convergence (divergence) is produced with the flow. L Surface friction pressure gradient force 7

8 Surface Geostrophic Flow Cyclonic Flow Anticyclonic Flow Surface High and Low Pressure Systems (figures from Weather & Climate) (from The Atmosphere) Centrifugal Force The force that change the direction (but not the speed) of motion is called the centrifugal force. Centrifugal Force = V 2 / R. V = wind speed R = the radius of the curvature (from The Atmosphere) (from The Atmosphere) 8

9 Gradient Wind Balance Super- and Sub-Geostrophic Wind The three-way balance of horizontal pressure gradient, Coriolis force, and the centrifugal force is call the gradient wind balance. The gradient wind is an excellent approximation to the actual wind observed above the Earth s surface, especially at the middle latitudes. For high pressure system gradient wind > geostrophic wind supergeostropic. For low pressure system gradient wind < geostrophic wind subgeostropic. (from Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere) Troughs, Ridges, Cyclones, and Anticyclones Measuring Winds Wind direction always indicates the direction from which wind blows. An aerovane indicates both wind speed and direction. 9

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