Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Altimeter and Barometer

Both the devices – an altimeter and a barometer – are used to measure pressure. Some altimeters are barometric, which means they measure altitude by calculating air pressure of a specific location. Barometers determine the changes in elevation as well as the changes to the air pressure caused by weather patterns.

What is an Altimeter?

An altimeter or an altitude meter is an instrument used to measure the altitude of the land surface – basically the distance above the sea level – or an object such as an aircraft. Altimeters are typically used in aircrafts that indicate pressure altitude above sea level. An altimeter does one simple thing: it estimates the altitude. It is an important tool to combine with solid map-reading skills for accurate orientation and navigation. An altimeter aboard an aircraft is essentially a pressure gauge that measures the outside pressure. The technology is basically the same as used by the aviators back in the 1960s and 1970s.

An altimeter comes in quite useful when you are navigating mountainous terrains because knowing your elevation and tracking your elevation changes can be fun and important, whether you’re on skis, on a bike, in a kayak or on foot. On aircrafts, altimeters are connected to the pitot-static system, and it receives static pressure information only. Static inlets basically take out the static pressure outside of the aircraft and the pilots use that to convert it into altitude. Depending on the principle of operation, altimeters can be of different types: barometric altimeter, radar altimeter, and GNSS altimeter.

What is a Barometer?

A barometer is a scientific instrument that is used to measure atmospheric or air pressure. Barometers remain the most important tool for evaluating and predicting the weather. A barometer is an essential tool used in the meteorological department for weather forecasting and altitude changes. There are many layers of air that are wrapped around the earth which we call the atmosphere. That air has a weight, and it pushes against everything it comes in contact with as gravity pulls it to earth. This pressure is atmospheric pressure which is measured by barometers.

Barometers are among the most essential tools for weather forecasters and scientists alike. Because air pressure correlates to temperature and rapid shifts in the pressure can contribute to extreme weather changes, which might lead to tornadoes, hurricanes, etc., a barometer becomes a crucial tool in predicting such extreme weather events. A barometer measures atmospheric pressure in terms of atmospheres or bars. A barometer needs to be adjusted and must be kept at the same level. The two main types of barometers are mercury and aneroid.

Difference between Altimeter and Barometer

Function of Altimeter vs Barometer

– An altimeter or an altitude meter is an instrument used to measure the altitude of the land surface, which basically means the distance above the sea level. An altimeter aboard an aircraft is essentially a pressure gauge that measures the outside pressure. 

A barometer, on the other hand, is a scientific instrument that measures and displays atmospheric pressure or air pressure. Most altimeters are barometric, and they are used to calculate altitude by factoring in air pressure of a specific location.

Working of Altimeter vs Barometer

 – On aircrafts, altimeters are connected to the pitot-static system and the static inlets basically take out the static pressure outside of the aircraft and the pilots use that to convert it into altitude. It measures the altitude of an aircraft above sea level by taking the ambient air pressure from the static port. 

Barometers, on the other hand, balance the weight of mercury in a glass tube against the atmospheric pressure. The mercury goes down if the air pressure is low.

Use of Working of Altimeter vs Barometer

 – Altimeters come in quite useful when you are navigating mountainous terrains to know your elevation and track your elevation changes. They are basically navigation instruments for aircraft and spacecraft pilots who need to measure the height above the surface of the earth. 

Barometers are an essential tool used in the meteorological department for weather forecasting and altitude changes. Meteorologists use them to monitor short-term changes in weather pattern.

Altimeter vs. Barometer: Comparison Chart

Summary

While both barometers and altimeters are essential tools used to measure atmospheric pressure, altimeters can be used at different levels to match the corresponding air pressure to the height. Altimeters are typically used in aircrafts that indicate pressure altitude above sea level. Barometers must be calibrated before they can be used to measure atmospheric pressure accurately. Barometers are an essential tool for weather forecasters and scientists alike, who use them to monitor changes in the weather pattern which might lead to extreme weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.

Can a barometer be used as an altimeter?

Altimeter takes the atmospheric pressure reading which you commonly hear in television and radio broadcasts. An altimeter is derived from a simple barometer to measure altitude.

What are the altimeter and barometer in a watch?

An altimeter in a watch measures the atmospheric pressure to calculate the altitude above the sea level. A barometer combined with GPS in a watch measures ambient air pressure to monitor changes in pressure which impacts the elevation reading.

What is the difference between a radar altimeter and a barometric altimeter?

A radar altimeter measures the height of an aircraft above terrain whereas a barometric altimeter measures distance of a location above sea level.

What are altimeters and barometers called?

Altimeters and barometers are atmospheric pressure measuring devices. Most altimeters are barometric, and most modern barometers are aneroid barometers.

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References :


[0]Wells, Darran. NOLS Wilderness Navigation. Pennsylvania, United States: Stackpole Books, 2005. Print

[1]Burns, Bob and Mike Burns. Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter, & GPS. Washington, United States: Mountaineers Books, 2012. Print

[2]Morris, Alan S. and Reza Langari. Measurement and Instrumentation: Theory and Application. Massachusetts, United States: Academic Press, 2015. Print

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