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Dylan Nguyen
Dylan Nguyen

Aneroid Barometer [2021]



A barometer is a scientific instrument that is used to measure air pressure in a certain environment. Pressure tendency can forecast short term changes in the weather. Many measurements of air pressure are used within surface weather analysis to help find surface troughs, pressure systems and frontal boundaries.




aneroid barometer


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Barometers and pressure altimeters (the most basic and common type of altimeter) are essentially the same instrument, but used for different purposes. An altimeter is intended to be used at different levels matching the corresponding atmospheric pressure to the altitude, while a barometer is kept at the same level and measures subtle pressure changes caused by weather and elements of weather. The average atmospheric pressure on the earth's surface varies between 940 and 1040 hPa (mbar). The average atmospheric pressure at sea level is 1013 hPa (mbar).


Although Evangelista Torricelli is universally credited with inventing the barometer in 1643,[1][2] historical documentation also suggests Gasparo Berti, an Italian mathematician and astronomer, unintentionally built a water barometer sometime between 1640 and 1643.[1][3] French scientist and philosopher René Descartes described the design of an experiment to determine atmospheric pressure as early as 1631, but there is no evidence that he built a working barometer at that time.[1]


It was traditionally thought (especially by the Aristotelians) that the air did not have weight: that is, that the kilometers of air above the surface did not exert any weight on the bodies below it. Even Galileo had accepted the weightlessness of air as a simple truth. Torricelli questioned that assumption, and instead proposed that air had weight and that it was the latter (not the attracting force of the vacuum) which held (or rather, pushed) up the column of water. He thought that the level the water stayed at (c. 10.3 m) was reflective of the force of the air's weight pushing on it (specifically, pushing on the water in the basin and thus limiting how much water can fall from the tube into it). He viewed the barometer as a balance, an instrument for measurement (as opposed to merely being an instrument to create a vacuum), and because he was the first to view it this way, he is traditionally considered the inventor of the barometer (in the sense in which we now use the term).[5]


In 1646, Blaise Pascal along with Pierre Petit, had repeated and perfected Torricelli's experiment after hearing about it from Marin Mersenne, who himself had been shown the experiment by Torricelli toward the end of 1644. Pascal further devised an experiment to test the Aristotelian proposition that it was vapours from the liquid that filled the space in a barometer. His experiment compared water with wine, and since the latter was considered more "spiritous", the Aristotelians expected the wine to stand lower (since more vapours would mean more pushing down on the liquid column). Pascal performed the experiment publicly, inviting the Aristotelians to predict the outcome beforehand. The Aristotelians predicted the wine would stand lower. It did not.[5]


However, Pascal went even further to test the mechanical theory. If, as suspected by mechanical philosophers like Torricelli and Pascal, air had weight, the pressure would be less at higher altitudes. Therefore, Pascal wrote to his brother-in-law, Florin Perier, who lived near a mountain called the Puy de Dôme, asking him to perform a crucial experiment. Perier was to take a barometer up the Puy de Dôme and make measurements along the way of the height of the column of mercury. He was then to compare it to measurements taken at the foot of the mountain to see if those measurements taken higher up were in fact smaller. In September 1648, Perier carefully and meticulously carried out the experiment, and found that Pascal's predictions had been correct. The column of mercury stood lower as the barometer was carried to a higher altitude.[5]


The weather ball barometer consists of a glass container with a sealed body, half filled with water. A narrow spout connects to the body below the water level and rises above the water level. The narrow spout is open to the atmosphere. When the air pressure is lower than it was at the time the body was sealed, the water level in the spout will rise above the water level in the body; when the air pressure is higher, the water level in the spout will drop below the water level in the body. A variation of this type of barometer can be easily made at home.[11]


A mercury barometer is an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure in a certain location and has a vertical glass tube closed at the top sitting in an open mercury-filled basin at the bottom. Mercury in the tube adjusts until the weight of it balances the atmospheric force exerted on the reservoir. High atmospheric pressure places more force on the reservoir, forcing mercury higher in the column. Low pressure allows the mercury to drop to a lower level in the column by lowering the force placed on the reservoir. Since higher temperature levels around the instrument will reduce the density of the mercury, the scale for reading the height of the mercury is adjusted to compensate for this effect. The tube has to be at least as long as the amount dipping in the mercury + head space + the maximum length of the column.


Torricelli documented that the height of the mercury in a barometer changed slightly each day and concluded that this was due to the changing pressure in the atmosphere.[1] He wrote: "We live submerged at the bottom of an ocean of elementary air, which is known by incontestable experiments to have weight".[12] Inspired by Torricelli, Otto von Guericke on 5 December 1660 found that air pressure was unusually low and predicted a storm, which occurred the next day.[13]


The mercury barometer's design gives rise to the expression of atmospheric pressure in inches or millimeters of mercury (mmHg). A torr was originally defined as 1 mmHg. The pressure is quoted as the level of the mercury's height in the vertical column. Typically, atmospheric pressure is measured between 26.5 inches (670 mm) and 31.5 inches (800 mm) of Hg. One atmosphere (1 atm) is equivalent to 29.92 inches (760 mm) of mercury.


Design changes to make the instrument more sensitive, simpler to read, and easier to transport resulted in variations such as the basin, siphon, wheel, cistern, Fortin, multiple folded, stereometric, and balance barometers.


In 2007, a European Union directive was enacted to restrict the use of mercury in new measuring instruments intended for the general public, effectively ending the production of new mercury barometers in Europe. The repair and trade of antiques (produced before late 1957) remained unrestricted.[14][15]


Fortin barometers use a variable displacement mercury cistern, usually constructed with a thumbscrew pressing on a leather diaphragm bottom (V in the diagram). This compensates for displacement of mercury in the column with varying pressure. To use a Fortin barometer, the level of mercury is set to zero by using the thumbscrew to make an ivory pointer (O in the diagram) just touch the surface of the mercury. The pressure is then read on the column by adjusting the vernier scale so that the mercury just touches the sightline at Z. Some models also employ a valve for closing the cistern, enabling the mercury column to be forced to the top of the column for transport. This prevents water-hammer damage to the column in transit.


Sympiesometers have two parts. One is a traditional mercury thermometer that is needed to calculate the expansion or contraction of the fluid in the barometer. The other is the barometer, consisting of a J-shaped tube open at the lower end and closed at the top, with small reservoirs at both ends of the tube.


A wheel barometer uses a "J" tube sealed at the top of the longer limb. The shorter limb is open to the atmosphere and floating on top of the mercury there is a small glass float. A fine silken thread is attached to the float which passes up over a wheel and then back down to a counterweight (usually protected in another tube). The wheel turns the point on the front of the barometer. As atmospheric pressure increases mercury moves from the short to the long limb, the float falls and the pointer moves. When pressure falls the mercury moves back, lifting the float and turning the dial the other way.[17]


Around 1810 the wheel barometer, which could be read from a great distance, became the first practical and commercial instrument favoured by farmers and the educated classes in the UK. The face of the barometer was circular with a simple dial pointing to an easily readable scale: "Rain - Change - Dry" with the "Change" at the top centre of the dial. Later models added a barometric scale with finer graduations "Stormy (28 inches of mercury), Much Rain (28.5), Rain (29), Change (29.5), Fair (30), Set fair (30.5), very dry(31)".


Natalo Aiano is recognised as one of the finest makers of wheel barometers, an early pioneer in a wave of artisanal Italian instrument and barometer makers that were encouraged to emigrate to the UK. He listed as working in Holborn, London c.1785-1805.[18] From 1770 onwards a large number of Italians came to England because they were accomplished glass blowers or instrument makers. By 1840 it was fair to say that the Italians dominated the industry in England.[19]


Using vacuum pump oil as the working fluid in a barometer has led to the creation of the new "World's Tallest Barometer" in February 2013. The barometer at Portland State University (PSU) uses doubly distilled vacuum pump oil and has a nominal height of about 12.4 m for the oil column height; expected excursions are in the range of 0.4 m over the course of a year. Vacuum pump oil has very low vapour pressure and it is available in a range of densities; the lowest density vacuum oil was chosen for the PSU barometer to maximize the oil column height.[20] 041b061a72


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