# Atmospheric pressure

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Atmospheric pressure is the force per unit area exerted against a surface by the weight of air above that surface in the Earth's atmosphere. In most circumstances atmospheric pressure is closely approximated by the hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of air above the measurement point. Low pressure areas have less atmospheric mass above their location, whereas high pressure areas have more atmospheric mass above their location. Similarly, as elevation increases there is less overlying atmospheric mass, so that pressure decreases with increasing elevation. A column of air one square inch in cross-section, measured from sea level to the top of the atmosphere, would weigh just over a stone (and a column one square centimetre in cross-section would weigh just over a kilogram).

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### Standard atmospheric pressure

The standard atmosphere (symbol: atm) is a unit of pressure and is defined as being equal to 101,325 Pa or 101.325 kPa.[1][2] The following units are equivalent, but only to the number of decimal places displayed: 760 mmHg (Torr), 29.92 inHg, 14.696 psi, 1013.25 millibars. One standard atmosphere is standard pressure used for pneumatic fluid power (ISO R554), and in the aerospace (ISO 2533) and petroleum (ISO 5024) industries.

In 1999, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) said that for the purposes of specifying the properties of substances, “the standard pressure” should be defined as precisely 100 kPa (≈750.01 Torr) or 29.53 inHg rather than the 101.325 kPa value of “one standard atmosphere”.[3] This value is used as the standard pressure for the compressor and the pneumatic tool industries (ISO 2787).[4] (See also Standard temperature and pressure.) In the United States, compressed air flow is often measured in "standard cubic feet" per unit of time, where the "standard" means the equivalent quantity of moisture at standard temperature and pressure. For every 1,000 feet you ascend the atmospheric pressure decreases 4%. However, this standard atmosphere is defined slightly differently: temperature = 20 °C (68 °F), air density = 1.225 kg/m³ (0.0765 lb/cu ft), altitude = sea level, and relative humidity = 20%. In the air conditioner industry, the standard is often temperature = 0 °C (32 °F) instead. For natural gas, the Gas Processors Association (GPA) specifies a standard temperature of 60 °F (15.6 °C), but allows a variety of "base" pressures, including 14.65 psi (101.0 kPa), 14.656 psi (101.05 kPa), 14.73 psi (101.6 kPa) and 15.025 psi (103.59 kPa).[5]