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The bar is a non-SI unit of pressure, defined by the IUPAC as exactly equal to 100,000 Pa. It is about equal to the atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level, and since 1982 the IUPAC has recommended that the standard for atmospheric pressure should be harmonized to 100,000 Pa = 1 bar ≈ 750.0616827 Torr. The same definition is used in the compressor and the pneumatic tool industries (ISO 2787).
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 or cgs units, but they are accepted for use with the SI. The bar is legally recognized in countries of the European Union.
The bar unit is considered deprecated by some entities. While the BIPM includes it under the class "Non-SI units accepted for use with the SI", the NIST includes it in the list of units to avoid and recommends to use kilopascals (kPa) and megapascals (MPa) instead. The IAU also lists it under "Non-SI units and symbols whose continued use is deprecated."
The word bar has its origin in the Greek word βάρος (baros), meaning weight. 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.
Atmospheric air pressure is often given in millibars where standard sea level pressure is defined as 1000 mbar, 100 (kPa), or 1 bar. This should be distinguished from the now deprecated unit of pressure, known as the "atmosphere" (atm), which is equal to 1.01325 bar. Despite millibars not being an SI unit, meteorologists and weather reporters worldwide have long measured air pressure in millibars as the values are convenient. 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 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 metres. 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.
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 boost is often described in bars in the metric part of the world (i.e., outside the US).
Unicode has characters for "mb" (㏔, U+33D4) and "bar" (㍴, U+3374), but they exist only for compatibility with legacy Asian encodings and are not intended to be used in new documents.
The kilobar is commonly used in geological systems, particularly in experimental petrology.
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 or bar(g), spoken as "bar gauge". In contrast, absolute pressures are zero-referenced to a complete vacuum and when expressed in bar are often referred to as bara or bar(a). 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, 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.
|Pascal||Bar||Technical atmosphere||Standard atmosphere||Torr||Pounds per square inch|
|1 Pa||≡ 1 N/m2||10−5||1.0197×10−5||9.8692×10−6||7.5006×10−3||1.450377×10−4|
|1 bar||105||≡ 106 dyn/cm2||1.0197||0.98692||750.06||14.50377|
|1 at||0.980665 ×105||0.980665||≡ 1 kp/cm2||0.9678411||735.5592||14.22334|
|1 atm||1.01325 ×105||1.01325||1.0332||≡ p0||≡ 760||14.69595|
|1 Torr||133.3224||1.333224×10−3||1.359551×10−3||1.315789×10−3||≈ 1 mmHg||1.933678×10−2|
|1 psi||6.8948×103||6.8948×10−2||7.03069×10−2||6.8046×10−2||51.71493||≡ 1 lbF/in2|