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lines of constant pressure

A line drawn on a weather map connecting points of equal pressure is called an isobar. The isobars are generated from mean sea level pressure reports and the pressure values are given in millibars.

The diagram below depicts a pair of isobars. At every point along the top isobar, the pressure is 996 mb and at every point along the bottom isobar the pressure is 1000 mb.

Any point in between these two isobars will have a pressure somewhere between 996 mb and 1000 mb. Point A, for example, has a pressure of 998 mb and is therefore located between the 996 mb isobar and the 1000 mb isobar.

Sea level pressure reports are available every hour, which means that maps of isobars are likewise available every hour. The solid blue contours are isobars and the numbers along particular contours indicate the pressure value of the isobar.

Surface maps of isobars are useful for locating areas of high and low pressure, which correspond to the positions of surface cyclones and anticyclones. A map of isobars is also useful for locating strong pressure gradients which are identifiable by a tight packing of the isobars. Stronger winds are associated with larger gradients in pressure.

Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.