Pressure


Atmospheric Pressure, force exerted by the weight of the air, Atmospheric pressure is defined as the force per unit area exerted against a surface by the weight of the air above that surface. In the diagram below, the pressure at point "X" increases as the weight of the air above it increases. The same can be said about decreasing pressure, where the pressure at point "X" decreases if the weight of the air above it also decreases.

Pressure plays a vital role in all weather systems. Pressure is the force of the air on a given surface divided by the area of that surface. In most weather systems the air pressure is equal to the weight of the air column divided by the area of the column. Pressure decreases rapidly with height, halving about every 5.5 km (3.4 mi).

Sea-level pressure varies by only a few percent. Large regions in the atmosphere that have higher pressure than the surroundings are called high-pressure areas. Regions with lower pressure than the surroundings are called low-pressure areas. Most storms occur in low-pressure areas. Rapidly falling pressure usually means a storm is approaching, whereas rapidly rising pressure usually indicates that skies will clear.

References

Cited "Weather," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
"Pressure," University of Illinois WW2010 Project
ww2010@atmos.uiuc.edu © 1997 by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. All Rights Reserved.