Bar (unit)

An aluminium cylinder
(5 mm or 0.197 in thickness) after 700 bar (10 ksi) pressure.

The bar is a metric (but not SI) unit of pressure exactly equal to 7005100000000000000♠100000 Pa. It is about equal to the atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level.

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.

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. 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 the use of kilopascals (kPa) and megapascals (MPa) instead. The IAU also lists it under "Non-SI units and symbols whose continued use is deprecated."

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

    The bar is defined using the SI unit pascal, namely: 7005100000000000000♠1 bar7005100000000000000♠100000 Pa. 7005100000000000000♠1 bar is therefore equal to:

    • 7005100000000000000♠100 kPa (in SI units)
    • 7005100000000000000♠1×105 N/m2 (alternative representation in SI units)
    • 7005100000000000000♠1000000 Ba (barye) (in cgs units)

    and approximately equal to

    • 6999987000000000000♠0.987 atm
    • 7005100000180828655♠14.5038 psi absolute
    • 7001295300000000000♠29.53 inHg
    • 7002750060000000000♠750.06 mmHg
    • 7002750060000000000♠750.06 Torr
    • 7003101972000000000♠1019.72 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 7005100000000000000♠1000 mbar, 100 (kPa), or 1 bar. This should be distinguished from the 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. In contrast, Americans are familiar with the use of the millibar in US reports of hurricanes and other cyclonic storms.[]

    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). 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

    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.

    In the United States, where pressures are 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.

    See also


    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.

    External links

    • Official SI website: Table 8. Non-SI units accepted for use with the SI
    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 6995101970000000000♠1.0197×10−5 6994986919999999999♠9.8692×10−6 6997750060000000000♠7.5006×10−3 6996145037700000000♠1.450377×10−4
    1 bar 105 ≡ 100 kPa

    ≡ 106 dyn/cm2

    7000101970000000000♠1.0197 6999986920000000000♠0.98692 7002750060000000000♠750.06 7001145037700000000♠14.50377
    1 at 7004980665000000000♠0.980665×105 6999980665000000000♠0.980665 ≡ 1 kp/cm2 6999967841100000000♠0.9678411 7002735559200000000♠735.5592 7001142233400000000♠14.22334
    1 atm 7005101325000000000♠1.01325×105 7000101325000000000♠1.01325 7000103319999999999♠1.0332 1 7002760000000000000♠760 7001146959500000000♠14.69595
    1 Torr 7002133322399999999♠133.3224 6997133322400000000♠1.333224×10−3 6997135955100000000♠1.359551×10−3 6997131578900000000♠1.315789×10−3 1/760atm

    ≈ 1 mmHg

    1 psi 7003689480000000000♠6.8948×103 6998689480000000000♠6.8948×10−2 6998703069000000000♠7.03069×10−2 6998680460000000000♠6.8046×10−2 7001517149300000000♠51.71493 ≡ 1 lbF /in2