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This article is about the unit of pressure. For the informal unit of signal strength, see Mobile phone signal.
"Kbar" redirects here. For the knife, see KA-BAR.
An aluminium cylinder
(5 mm or 0.197 in thickness) after 700 bar (10,153 psi) pressure.

The bar is a metric (but not SI) unit of pressure, defined by the IUPAC as exactly equal to 100,000 Pa.[1] 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.[2] The same definition is used in the compressor and the pneumatic tool industries (ISO 2787).

The bar and the millibar were introduced by the British meteorologist William Napier Shaw in 1909, while he was the director of the Meteorological Office in London.[3]

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). These are not SI or cgs units, but they are accepted by the BIPM for use with the SI.[4] The bar is legally recognized in countries of the European Union.[5]

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",[4] the NIST includes it in the list of units to avoid and recommends the use of kilopascals (kPa) and megapascals (MPa) instead.[6] The IAU also lists it under "Non-SI units and symbols whose continued use is deprecated."[7]

Bar(g) is a unit of gauge pressure, i.e., pressure in bars above ambient or atmospheric pressure; see absolute pressure and gauge pressure below.

Definition and conversion[edit]

The bar is defined using the SI unit pascal, namely: 1 bar100,000 Pa. 1 bar is therefore equal to:

  • 100 kPa (in SI units)
  • 1×105 N/m2 (alternative representation in SI units)
  • 1,000,000 dyn/cm2 (barye) (in cgs units)
  • 0.987 atm
  • 14.5038 psi absolute
  • 29.53 inHg
  • 750.06 mmHg
  • 750.06 torr
  • 1,019.72 cmH2O


The word bar has its origin in the Greek word βάρος (baros), meaning weight. The unit's official symbol is bar; the earlier symbol b is now deprecated, and conflicts with the use of b as a unit symbol to denote the barn, but it is still encountered, especially as mb (rather than the proper mbar) to denote the millibar.


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 the millibar 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 the same reason, the hectopascal is now the standard unit used to express barometric pressures in aviation in most countries. For example, the weather office of Environment Canada uses kilopascals and hectopascals on their weather maps.[8][9] In contrast, Americans are familiar with the use of the millibar in US reports of hurricanes and other cyclonic storms.[citation needed]

In fresh water, there is an approximate numerical equivalence between the change in pressure in decibars and the change in depth from the water surface in metres. Specifically, an increase of 1 decibar occurs for every 1.019716 m increase in depth. In sea water with respect to the gravity variation, the latitude and the geopotential anomaly the pressure can be converted into meters depth according to an empirical formula (UNESCO Tech. Paper 44, p. 25).[10] 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 USA).

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, equivalent to 100 MPa, is commonly used in geological systems, particularly in experimental petrology.

Absolute pressure and gauge pressure[edit]

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 bars 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".[5]

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, for best practice, 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.[11]

See also[edit]


This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article "Bar (unit)", which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.
  1. ^ IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version:  (2006–) "IUPAC Gold Book - bar".
  2. ^ IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version:  (2006–) "IUPAC Gold Book - standard pressure".
  3. ^ Sir William Napier Shaw
  4. ^ a b International Bureau of Weights and Measures (2006), The International System of Units (SI) (8th ed.), p. 127, ISBN 92-822-2213-6 .
  5. ^ a b British Standard BS 350:2004 Conversion Factors for Units
  6. ^ NIST Special Publication 1038, Sec. 4.3.2 NIST Special Publication 811, 2008 edition, Sec. 5.2
  7. ^ International Astronomical Union Style Manual. Comm. 5 in IAU Transactions XXB, 1989, Table 6
  8. ^ Environment Canada Weather Map
  9. ^ Weather - Environment Canada
  10. ^ http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0005/000598/059832eb.pdf
  11. ^ FAQ (from the website of the National Physics Laboratory, United Kingdom)

External links[edit]

Pressure units
Pascal Bar Technical atmosphere Standard atmosphere Torr Pounds 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 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

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_(unit) — Please support Wikipedia.
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