Atmospheric pressure, commonly referred to as barometric pressure, is the force exerted by the weight of air above and around us. It affects weather patterns, plant growth, and human health, among other things. Today, many types of barometers exist for measuring atmospheric pressure, with handheld barometers becoming popular due to their portability and accuracy.
This article explores what a handheld barometer is, how it operates, its advantages over other types of barometers, and where it finds applications.
What is a Handheld Barometer?
A handheld barometer is a compact, portable, and battery-operated instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure. Its small size and lightweight design make it easy for users to carry around in their pockets or bags.
Handheld barometers come in different types, including mercury and aneroid barometers. Mercury barometers have been in use for centuries, but their use has declined recently due to the dangerous properties of mercury. An aneroid barometer functions similarly to a mercury barometer, but uses a sealed capsule that expands and contracts based on the surrounding atmospheric pressure.
How Does a Handheld Barometer Work?
A handheld barometer works on the principle of Boyle's law, which states that the volume of gas is inversely proportional to the pressure it experiences when kept at a constant temperature.
In handheld aneroid barometers, changes in atmospheric pressure cause the metal capsule located inside the device to change shape. These morphological changes then cause changes in needle position that are used to indicate changes in atmospheric pressure readings.
On the other hand, mercury barometers measure atmospheric pressure using the height of a column of mercury. Atmospheric pressure pushes down on the exposed mercury surface in the barometer's reservoir, causing the mercury level within the sealed tube (located near the reservoir) to rise and fall. The column of mercury's height indicates the atmospheric pressure level, and measurements are typically displayed in inches or millimeters.
Advantages of Using a Handheld Barometer
Portability: A significant advantage of handheld barometers is their portability. As these instruments are small in size and lightweight, they can be used both indoor and outdoor environments such as climbing, hiking, traveling, exploration, hunting, and sailing.
Convenience: Handheld barometers are incredibly convenient for quick atmospheric pressure measurements because they don't require long setup times or adjustment procedures before use. This means that users can get faster results than with other types of barometers.
Accuracy: Since handheld barometers are calibrated regularly and maintain a high degree of accuracy, they are trusted by professionals working in highly sensitive industries like meteorology, aviation, and marine fields.
Affordability: Compared to other types of barometers, handheld models are more cost-effective. Their reduced price point and ease of use make them an ideal option for non-professionals and casual users who need accurate data without additional features.
Applications of Handheld Barometers
Handheld barometers find applications in various fields, including:
Weather forecasting: Meteorologists and weather enthusiasts frequently use handheld barometers to measure atmospheric pressure shifts, making predictions about the weather patterns likely to occur in upcoming days.
Aviation: Aircraft altimeters use atmospheric pressure measurement technology to determine altitude accurately. Accurate readings from handheld barometers help pilots adjust their aircraft accordingly.
Mountain climbing and hiking: Mountaineers and hikers use handheld barometers to measure altitude while climbing or hiking, helping assess terrain, predict weather, and prevent altitude sickness.
Oceanic navigation: Sailors use handheld barometers to monitor changes in air pressure, which signals possible severe weather conditions, allowing them adequate time to take precautions.
In conclusion, handheld barometers offer significantly improved convenience, portability, and affordability over traditional barometers, making them an ideal choice for many users. These instruments' accuracy makes them indispensable in the fields of aviation, meteorology, marine transportation, and outdoor activities. By providing immediate atmospheric pressure measurement results, the handheld barometer remains a reliable tool in obtaining critical information about our environment