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What is a Barometric Pressure Transducer?

More about scientific instruments.

Barometric Pressure Transducer

You can use a barometric pressure transducer to give an electronic signal indicating the amount of atmospheric pressure felt at an area. The sensor has a vibrating part that responds to pressure fluctuations.

Any change in atmospheric pressure will cause the sensor's rate of vibration to increase or decrease.

And even minuscule pressure changes can be detected and recorded this way.

In general, transducers work by converting one type of energy to another and are very good at generating a sensitive response to signal input.

For a barometric pressure transducer, that input is the surrounding air pressure and its fluctuations.

Before seeing how to measure atmospheric pressure, let's examine where atmospheric pressure comes from.

The total weight of air molecules acting on a unit area causes air pressure. As you might expect, the number of air molecules above a certain point and hence the weight of air would be relatively high at sea level, and as the instrument's altitude is increased, the number of molecules above your specific point will decrease.

Some of the air molecules that were above you while you were at the sea level are now below your level. Consequently the pressure, which depends only on those particles above you, decreases.

In addition to elevation, increased heat energy decreases air pressure, but by a different mechanism. When air is heated, the air molecules acquire more energy and move faster and same number of air molecules will occupy more space.

The expansion of the air column results in a lower number of molecules above each unit area, because the amount of space between the planet's surface and the top of the atmosphere is fixed.

Thus, pressure decreases. It is proportional to the number of molecules above you.

As you might expect, atmosphere is a fluid medium and doesn't behave uniformly above all points on the earth's surface at all times.

There exist parcels of higher and lower pressure throughout the atmosphere, and at all altitude levels.

For example, the eye of a hurricane is a place where surface pressure is extremely low. The lowest surface pressures on earth are found in the center of hurricanes.

What about the Barometric Pressure Transducer?

Mercury column barometers gauge atmospheric pressure. And now we have the transducer, which gives an even more accurate calculation of atmospheric pressure. A transducer will determine the pressure and is likely to become widely accepted in general meteorology and air transport.

Here computers quickly make complex calculations based on conversion factors to give us useful insight into the pressure dynamics of the atmosphere.

We shall keep an eye on this technology.

Go back from Barometric Pressure Transducer to the Weather Equipment webpage or visit the Stuff in the Air homepage.

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