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The standard atmosphere (symbol: atm) is an international reference pressure defined as 101325 Pa and formerly used as a unit of pressure.[1] For practical purposes it has been replaced by the bar which is 105 Pa.[1] The difference of about 1% is not significant for many applications, and is within the error range of common pressure gauges.


In 1954 the 10th Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures (CGPM) adopted standard atmosphere for general use and affirmed its definition of being precisely equal to 1,013,250 dynes per square centimeter (101 325 Pa).[2] This value was intended to represent the mean atmospheric pressure at mean sea level at the latitude of Paris, France, and as a practical matter, truly reflects the mean sea level pressure for many of the industrialized nations (those with latitudes similar to Paris).

In chemistry, the original definition of “Standard [3]and Pressure” (STP) was a reference temperature of 0 °C (273.15 K) and pressure of 101.325 kPa (1 atm). However, in 1982, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) recommended that for the purposes of specifying the physical properties of substances, “the standard pressure” should be defined as precisely 100 kPa (exactly 1 bar).[4]

Pressure units and equivalencies Edit

Pressure units

v · d · e

pascal bar technical atmosphere standard atmosphere torr pound per square inch
Pa bar at atm Torr psi
1 Pa ≡ 1 N/m2 10−5 1.0197×10−5 9.8692×10−6 7.5006×10−3 145.04×10−6
1 bar 105 ≡ 106 dyn/cm2 1.0197 0.98692 750.06 14.5037744
1 at 0.980665 ×105 0.980665 ≡ 1 kp/cm2 0.96784 735.56 14.223
1 atm 1.01325 ×105 1.01325 1.0332 p0 760 14.696
1 Torr 133.322 1.3332×10−3 1.3595×10−3 1.3158×10−3 = 1 mmHg 19.337×10−3
1 psi 6.895×103 68.948×10−3 70.307×10−3 68.046×10−3 51.715 ≡ 1 lbF/in2

A pressure of 1 atm can also be stated as:

≡1.013 25 bar
≡ 101325 pascal (Pa)
≡ 1013.25 millibars (mbar, also mb)
≡ 760 torr [B]
≈ 760.001 mm-Hg, 0 °C, subject to revision as more precise measurements of mercury’s density become available [B, C]
≈ 29.9213 in-Hg, 0 °C, subject to revision as more precise measurements of mercury’s density become available [C]
≈ 1.033 227 452 799 886 kgf/cm²
≈ 1.033 227 452 799 886 technical atmosphere
≈ 1033.227 452 799 886 cm–H2O, 4 °C [A]
≈ 406.782 461 732 2385 in–H2O, 4 °C [A]
≈ 14.695 948 775 5134 pounds-force per square inch (psi)
≈ 2116.216 623 673 94 pounds-force per square foot (psf)
A This is the customarily-accepted value for cm–H2O, 4 °C. It is precisely the product of 1 kg-force per square centimeter (one technical atmosphere) times 1.013 25 (bar/atmosphere) divided by 0.980 665 (one gram-force). It is not accepted practice to define the value for water column based on a true physical realization of water (which would be 99.997 495% of this value because the true maximum density of Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water is 0.999 974 95 kg/l at 3.984 °C). Also, this “physical realization” would still ignore the 8.285 cm–H2O reduction that would actually occur in a true physical realization due to the vapor pressure over water at 3.984 °C.
B Torr and mm-Hg, 0°C are often taken to be identical. For most practical purposes (to 5 significant digits), they are interchangeable.
C NIST value of 13.595 078(5) g/ml assumed for the density of Hg at 0 °C

Other applicationsEdit

Scuba divers and others use the word atmosphere and "atm" in relation to pressures that are relative to mean atmospheric pressure at sea level (1.013 bar). For example, a partial pressure of oxygen is calibrated typically using air at sea level, so is expressed in units of atm.

The old European unit technical atmosphere (at) is roughly equal to the gauge pressure under 10 m of water; 1 at = 98066.5 Pa.

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 British Standard BS 350:2004 Conversion Factors for Units
  2. BIPM Definition of the standard atmosphere
  3. Temperature
  4., Gold Book, Standard Pressure

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