Explain Briefly the Factors that Affect Atmospheric Pressure. - Geography

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Answer in Brief

Explain briefly the factors that affect Atmospheric Pressure.

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Factors affecting Atmospheric Pressure are as below :

  • Altitude: The atmospheric pressure decreases with height or altitude. The decrease in pressure is about 1 cm of mercury for every 110 m of ascent. The atmospheric pressure is highest at sea level. This is because at higher altitudes the air is thinner or less dense than the air at the sea level. The maximum air density is at the earth’s surface; air density decreases with height because the pull of the earth’s gravity is less. The fewer number of gas molecules at higher altitudes means fewer molecular collisions and a decrease in air pressure.
  • Temperature: Atmospheric pressure decreases with increase in temperature. This is because when the temperature rises, air expands. The molecules of air move far apart (become less dense) and hence exert less pressure. On the contrary, with a decrease in temperature, the air gets compressed and the space between molecules decreases (becomes denser) and exerts more pressure on the region.
  • Water Vapour: Water vapour concentration affects atmospheric pressure because the molecular weight of water (18 g/mol) is less than the average molecular weight of air (about 29 g/mol). When water evaporates and enters the atmosphere as a gas, the water vapour molecules take the place of other gas molecules in the air. So, a volume of wet (or humid) air weighs less than an equal volume of dry air. Therefore, humid air is less dense and exerts less pressure than dry air.
  • Rotation of the Earth: Due to the rotation of the earth, the bulk of the air at the Poles is thrown away towards the Equator. Since the Equatorial region receives a great amount of heat throughout the year, the air becomes warm and light and therefore, it rises and creates low pressure. At the Poles, the cold heavy air sinks down and creates high pressure. In fact, temperature and rotation of the earth together contribute to the formation of world pressure belts.
Concept: Atmospheric Pressure
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