Barometric Formula (Troposphere)

vCalc Reviewed
Equation / Last modified by KurtHeckman on 2018/02/26 14:05
vCalc.Barometric Formula (Troposphere)

The Barometric Pressure at Altitude calculator computes the normal barometric pressure based on the altitude (h) using the Exponential Atmosphere formula.

INSTRUCTIONS: Choose the preferred units and enter the following:

  • (h)  This is the height (altitude) above sea level.

Barometric Pressure at Altitude: The barometric pressure is returned in pascals.  However, this can be automatically converted to other pressure units (e.g. atomospheres) via the pull-down menu.

The Math / Science

Atmospheric pressure generally decreases as altitude within the troposphere increases.  Although weather and climate may influence exact atmospheric pressure in any given region, an approximation of pressure within the troposphere can be made with knowledge of altitude alone.

Atmospheric pressure is the force per unit area exerted on a surface by the weight of air above in the atmosphere of Earth.  The troposphere is the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere, extending about 17km (11 miles) from the Earth's surface in middle latitudes1.

The Exponental Atomosphere formula (aka Isothermal Atmosphere" formula2) relates pressure, p, to and altitude, h, as
                      `p = p_0 * ( 1 - (g * h)/(c_p * T_0) ) ^ ((c_p * M) / R) `

with the following parameters:


Empirical knowledge of the effects of barometric pressure has existed for centuries, as the construction of effective pumps demonstrates.  However, the first documented theoretical explanation of barometric pressure accompanied an experiment performed by Evangelista Torricelli in 1643 or 1644, which became known at the time as "The Experiment from Italy."3


This formula is applicable only to altitudes up to about 44,000 meters.  Additionally, local weather and climate effects also affect the exact barometric pressure at any given point.

See also

Ideal gas law (pressure)