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© AMS3 Driving Question  What is the significance of horizontal and vertical variations in air pressure? –Air pressure is an element of weather we do not physically sense as readily as temperature and humidity changes –This chapter examines:  The properties of air pressure  How air pressure is measured  The reasons for spatial and temporal variations in air pressure

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AMS 1 Chapter 5 Air Pressure AMS Weather Studies Introduction to Atmospheric Science, 4 th Edition AMS2Case-in-Point Mount Everest Worlds tallest mountain 8848 m (29,029 ft) Same latitude as Tampa, FL Due to declining temperature with altitude, the summit is always cold January mean temperature is -36 C (-33 F) July mean temperature is -19 C (-2 F) Shrouded in clouds from June through September Due to monsoon winds November through February Hurricane-force winds Due to jet stream moving down from the north Harsh conditions make survival at the summit difficult Very thin air Wind-chill factor Most ascents take place in May AMS3 Driving Question What is the significance of horizontal and vertical variations in air pressure? Air pressure is an element of weather we do not physically sense as readily as temperature and humidity changes This chapter examines: The properties of air pressure How air pressure is measured The reasons for spatial and temporal variations in air pressure AMS4 Defining Air Pressure Air exerts a force on the surface of all objects it contacts The air is a gas, so the molecules are in constant motion The air molecules collide with a surface area in contact with air The force of these collisions per unit area is pressure Daltons Law total pressure exerted by mixture of gases is sum of pressures produced by each constituent gas Air pressure depends on: Mass of the molecules and kinetic molecular energy Air pressure can be thought of as the weight of overlying air acting on a unit area Weight is the force of gravity exerted on a mass Weight = (mass) x (acceleration of gravity) Average sea-level air pressure 1.0 kg/cm 2 (14.7 lb/in. 2 ) Air pressure acts in all directions That is why structures do not collapse under all the weight AMS5 A mercury thermometer employs air pressure to support a column of mercury in a tube Air pressure at sea level will support the mercury to a height of 760 mm (29.92 in.) Height of the mercury column changes with air pressure Adjustments required for: The expansion and contraction of mercury with temperature Gravity variations with latitude and altitude Air Pressure Measurement AMS6 Air Pressure Measurement An aneroid barometer is less precise, but more portable than a mercury barometer It has a chamber with a partial vacuum Changes in air pressure collapse or expand the chamber This moves a pointer on a scale calibrated equivalent to mm or in. of mercury New ones are piezoelectric depend on the effect of air pressure on a crystalline substance Home-use aneroid barometers often have a fair, changeable, and stormy scale These should not be taken literally AMS7 Air Pressure Measurement Forecasting uses air pressure and tendency values changes over time Barometers may keep a record of air pressure These are called barographs AMS8 Air Pressure Units Units of length Millimeters or inches Inches typical for TV Units of pressure Pascal worldwide standard Metric scale Sea-level pressure = 101,325 pascals (Pa) hectopascals (hPa) kilopascals (kPa) Bars U.S. A bar is inches of mercury A millibar (mb) is the standard used on weather maps, meaning 1/1000 of a bar Usual worldwide range is 970 1040 mb Lowest ever recorded mb (Typhoon Tip in 1979) Highest ever recorded mb (Agata, Siberia) AMS9 Variations in Air Pressure w/Altitude Overlying air compresses the atmosphere the greatest pressure is at the lowest elevations Gas molecules are closely spaced at the surface Spacing increases with altitude At 18 km (11 mi), air density is only 10% of that at sea level Because air is compressible, the drop in pressure with altitude is greater in the lower troposphere Then it becomes more gradual aloft Vertical profiles of average air pressure and temperature are based on the standard atmosphere state of atmosphere averaged for all latitudes and seasons Even though density and pressure drop with altitude, it is not possible to pinpoint a specific altitude at which the atmosphere ends the atmospheres mass is below 5500 m (18,000 ft) 99% of the mass is below 32 km (20 mi) Denver, CO average air pressure is 83% of Boston, MA AMS10 Average Air Pressure Variation with Altitude Expressed in mb AMS11 AMS12 Horizontal Variations in Air Pressure Horizontal variations are much more important to weather forecasters than vertical differences In fact, local pressures at elevations are adjusted to equivalent sea-level values This shows variations of pressure in the horizontal plane This is mapped by connecting points of equal equivalent sea-level pressure, producing isobars AMS13 Horizontal Variations in Air Pressure Horizontal changes in pressure can be accompanied by significant changes in weather In middle latitudes, a continuous procession of different air masses brings changes in pressure and weather Temperature has a much more pronounced affect on air pressure than humidity In general, the weather becomes stormy when air pressure falls but clears or remains fair when air pressure rises Air pressure varies continuously AMS14 Horizontal Variations in Air Pressure Influence of temperature and humidity Rising air temperature = rise in the average kinetic energy of the individual molecules In a closed container, heated air exerts more pressure on the sides Density in a closed container does not change No air has been added or removed The atmosphere is not like a closed container Heating the atmosphere causes the molecules to space themselves farther apart This is due to increased kinetic energy Molecules placed farther apart have a lower mass per unit volume, or density The heated air is less dense, and lighter. AMS15 Horizontal Variations in Air Pressure Influence of temperature and humidity, continued Air pressure drops more rapidly with altitude in a column of cold air Cold air is denser, has less kinetic energy, so the molecules are closer together 500 mb surfaces represent where half of the atmosphere is above and half below by mass This surface is at a lower altitude in cold air vs. in warm air Increasing humidity decreases air density The greater the concentration of water vapor, the less dense is the air due to Avogadros Law We often refer to muggy air as heavy air, but the opposite is true Muggy air only weighs heavily on our personal comfort factor AMS16 Horizontal Variations in Air Pressure Influence of temperature and humidity, continued Cold, dry air masses are the densest These generally produce higher surface pressures Warm, dry air masses generally exert higher pressure than warm, humid air masses These pressure differences create horizontal pressure gradients Pressure gradients cause cold or warm air advection Air mass modifications can also produce changes in surface pressures Conclusion: local conditions and air mass advection can influence air pressure AMS17 Horizontal Variations in Air Pressure Influence of diverging and converging winds Diverging = winds blowing away from a column of air Converging = winds blowing towards a column of air Diverging/converging caused by : Horizontal winds blowing toward or away from some location (this chapter) Wind speed changes in a downstream direction (Chapter 8) AMS18 Influence of Temperature and Humidity When air is heated, air density usually decreases as a result in the increased activity of the heated molecules. Air pressure drops more rapidly with altitude in cold air than in warm air Increasing humidity also decreases the density of air, because water vapor has a lower molecular weight than dry air AMS19 Influence of Diverging and Converging winds If more air diverges at the surface than converges aloft, the air density and surface air pressure decrease If more air converges aloft than diverges at the surface, density and surface pressure increase AMS20 Highs and Lows Isobars are drawn on a map as previously discussed U.S. convention these are drawn at 4-mb intervals (e.g., 996 mb, 1000 mb, 1004 mb) A High is an area where pressure is relatively high compared to the surrounding air A Low is an area where pressure is relatively low compared to the surrounding air Highs are usually fair weather systems Lows are usually stormy weather systems Rising air is necessary for precipitation formation Lows are rising columns of air. Highs are sinking columns of air. AMS21 The Gas Law We have discussed variability of temperature, pressure, and density these properties are known as variables of state; their magnitudes change from one place to another across Earths surface, with altitude above Earths surface, and with time The three variables of state are related through the ideal gas law, which is a combination of Charles law and Boyles law The ideal gas law states that pressure exerted by air is directly proportional to the product of its density and temperature, i.e. pressure = (gas constant) x (density) x (temperature) AMS22 The Gas Law Conclusions from the ideal gas law Density of air within a rigid, closed container remains constant. Increasing the temperature leads to increased pressure Within an air parcel, with a fixed number of molecules: Volume can change, mass remains constant Compressing the air increases density because its volume decreases Within the same air parcel: With a constant pressure, a rise in temperature is accompanied by a decrease in density. Expansion due to increased kinetic energy increases volume Hence, at a fixed pressure, temperature is inversely proportional to density AMS23 Expansional Cooling and Compressional Warming Expansional cooling when an air parcel expands, the temperature of the gas drops Compressional warming when the pressure on an air parcel increases, the parcel is compressed and its temperature rises Conservation of energy Law of energy conservation/1 st law of thermodynamics heat energy gained by an air parcel either increases the parcels internal energy or is used to do work on t