Bar (unit)

# Bar (unit)

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Encyclopedia
The bar is a unit of pressure
Pressure
Pressure is the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object. Gauge pressure is the pressure relative to the local atmospheric or ambient pressure.- Definition :...

equal to 100 kilopascal
Pascal (unit)
The pascal is the SI derived unit of pressure, internal pressure, stress, Young's modulus and tensile strength, named after the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher Blaise Pascal. It is a measure of force per unit area, defined as one newton per square metre...

s, and roughly equal to the atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level. Other units derived from the bar are the megabar (symbol: Mbar), kilobar (symbol: kbar), decibar (symbol: dbar), centibar (symbol: cbar), and millibar (symbol: mbar or mb). They are not SI
Si
Si, si, or SI may refer to :- Measurement, mathematics and science :* International System of Units , the modern international standard version of the metric system...

units, nor are they cgs units, but they are accepted for use with the SI
Si
Si, si, or SI may refer to :- Measurement, mathematics and science :* International System of Units , the modern international standard version of the metric system...

. The bar is widely used in descriptions of pressure because it is only about 1% smaller than the atmosphere
Atmosphere (unit)
The standard atmosphere is an international reference pressure defined as 101325 Pa and formerly used as unit of pressure. For practical purposes it has been replaced by the bar which is 105 Pa...

(symbol: atm), which now is defined to be exactly. The bar is legally recognized in countries of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

The bar and the millibar were introduced by the British meteorologist William Napier Shaw in 1909. He was the director of the Meteorological Office in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

from 1907 to 1920.

Barg is a unit of gauge pressure, i.e., pressure in bars above ambient or atmospheric pressure; see absolute pressure and gauge pressure below.

## Definition and conversion

The bar is defined using the SI unit pascal
Pascal (unit)
The pascal is the SI derived unit of pressure, internal pressure, stress, Young's modulus and tensile strength, named after the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher Blaise Pascal. It is a measure of force per unit area, defined as one newton per square metre...

, namely: ≡ .
is therefore equal to: (barye
Barye
The barye , or sometimes barad, barrie, bary, baryd, baryed, or barie, is the centimetre-gram-second unit of pressure. It is equal to 1 dyne per square centimetre....

s)

## Origin

The word bar has its origin in the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

word βάρος (baros), meaning weight
Weight
In science and engineering, the weight of an object is the force on the object due to gravity. Its magnitude , often denoted by an italic letter W, is the product of the mass m of the object and the magnitude of the local gravitational acceleration g; thus:...

. Its official symbol is "bar"; the earlier "b" is now deprecated, but still often seen especially in "mb" rather than the proper "mbar" for millibars.

## Usage

Atmospheric air pressure
Atmospheric pressure
Atmospheric pressure is the force per unit area exerted into a surface by the weight of air above that surface in the atmosphere of Earth . In most circumstances atmospheric pressure is closely approximated by the hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of air above the measurement point...

is often given in millibars where "standard" sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

pressure (1 atm) is defined as 1013.25 mbar (hPa
Pascal (unit)
The pascal is the SI derived unit of pressure, internal pressure, stress, Young's modulus and tensile strength, named after the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher Blaise Pascal. It is a measure of force per unit area, defined as one newton per square metre...

), equal to 1.01325 bar. Despite millibars not being an SI
Si
Si, si, or SI may refer to :- Measurement, mathematics and science :* International System of Units , the modern international standard version of the metric system...

unit, meteorologists and weather reporters worldwide have long measured air pressure in millibars. After the advent of SI units, some meteorologists began using hectopascals (symbol hPa) which are numerically equivalent to millibars. For example, the weather office of Environment Canada
Environment Canada , legally incorporated as the Department of the Environment under the Department of the Environment Act Environment Canada (EC) (French: Environnement Canada), legally incorporated as the Department of the Environment under the Department of the Environment Act Environment...

uses kilopascals and hectopascals on their weather maps. In contrast, Americans are familiar with the use of the millibar in US reports of hurricanes and other cyclonic storms.

In water, there is an approximate numerical equivalence between the change in pressure in decibars and the change in depth from the sea surface in metre
Metre
The metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...

s. Specifically, an increase of 1 decibar occurs for every 1.019716 metre increase in depth close to the surface. As a result, decibars are commonly used in oceanography
Oceanography
Oceanography , also called oceanology or marine science, is the branch of Earth science that studies the ocean...

.

Many engineers worldwide use the bar as a unit of pressure because, in much of their work, using pascals would involve using very large numbers.

In the automotive field, turbocharger
Turbocharger
A turbocharger, or turbo , from the Greek "τύρβη" is a centrifugal compressor powered by a turbine that is driven by an engine's exhaust gases. Its benefit lies with the compressor increasing the mass of air entering the engine , thereby resulting in greater performance...

boost is often described in bars in the metric part of the world (i.e. Europe)

Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

has a character for "mb": , U+33D4, but it exists only for compatibility with legacy Asian encodings. There is also a character "bar": , U+3374.

The kilobar is commonly used in geological systems, particularly in experimental petrology
Petrology
Petrology is the branch of geology that studies rocks, and the conditions in which rocks form....

.

## Absolute pressure and gauge pressure

Bourdon tube pressure gauges, vehicle tire gauges, and many other types of pressure gauges are zero-referenced to atmospheric pressure, which means that they measure the pressure above atmospheric pressure (which is around 1 bar); this is gauge pressure and is often referred to in writing as barg (spoken "bar gauge"). In contrast, absolute pressures are zero referenced to a complete vacuum and when expressed in bar are often referred to as bara. Thus, the absolute pressure of any system is the gauge pressure of the system plus atmospheric pressure. The usage of bara and barg is now deprecated, with qualification of the physical property being preferred, e.g., "The gauge pressure is 2.3 bar; the absolute pressure is 3.3 bar".

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, where pressures are still often expressed in pounds per square inch (symbol psi), gauge pressures are referred to as psig and absolute pressures are referred to as psia. Gauge pressure is also sometimes spelled as gage pressure.

Sometimes, the context in which the word pressure is used helps to identify it as meaning either the absolute or gauge pressure. However, in truth, whenever a pressure is expressed in any units (bar, Pa, psi, atm, etc.), it should be denoted in some manner as being either absolute or gauge pressure to avoid any possible misunderstanding. One recommended way of doing so is to spell out what is meant, for example as bar gauge or kPa absolute.