What is a barometer?

Used for measuring atmospheric pressure, a barometer is a scientific instrument that can help forecast short-term weather changes.

Several instruments are used to measure air pressure used for analysis to assist in monitoring surface troughs, high-pressure systems, and frontal boundaries.

Barometers and pressure altimeters are basically the same instruments, however, used for different purposes.

An altimeter is intended to be moved to various places matching the atmospheric pressure to the corresponding altitude.  Simultaneously, a barometer is kept in the same place, measuring subtle pressure changes caused by the weather.  However, one exception to these ships at sea.  Their elevation changes, which a barometer can be used to measure because their elevation does not change.  Weather systems and aircraft altimeters may need to be changed as they fly between destinations as atmospheric pressure changes.

The barometer was invented by Gasparo Berti, an Italian mathematician/astronomer, in 1643.  An incredible invention in those days.  By accident, Berti built a water barometer estimated to have happened between 1640 and 1643.

Rene’ Descartes, a french scientist, offered a description of an experiment’s design to determine atmospheric pressure as early as 1631; however, there is no evidence that Descartes built a barometer.

There are various types of barometers:

  • Water-based
  • Mercury
  • Vacuum pump oil
  • Aneroid
  • Baragraphs
  • MEMS

Applications of barometers

Barometers measuring barometric pressure have been used since the 19th century.  When used in conjunction with wind, semi-reliable forecasts can be made.  Simultaneous readings from across weather station networks help build a map of air pressure, which was the first form of a weather map created in the 19th century.  Localized high atmospheric pressure acts as a barrier to approaching weather, changing their course.  Atmospheric lift as a result of low-level wind convergence into the surface brings clouds and possibly precipitation.