Sunteți pe pagina 1din 24

Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS

CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

MODULE 8

SUB MODULE 8.1

PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Rev. 00 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Contents Page

INTRODUCTION..................................................................... 2
Physics of the Atmosphere...................................................... 4
Invisibility of the Atmosphere................................................... 4
Static Pressure ........................................................................ 6
Density .................................................................................... 8
AIR TEMPERATURE ............................................................ 10
Effect of Temperature and Pressure on Density.................... 12
Humidity ................................................................................ 14
Viscosity ................................................................................ 14
Inertia of the Air ..................................................................... 15
international standard atmosphere ........................................ 16
Winds and Up-and-Down Currents........................................ 21

Rev. 00 i 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

“The training notes and diagrams are


compiled by SriLankan Technical Training
and although comprehensive in detail, they
are intended for use only with a Course of
instruction. When compiled, they are as up to
date as possible, and amendments to the
training notes and diagrams will NOT be
issued”.

Rev. 00 1 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

INTRODUCTION
An understanding of the basic principles of aerodynamics is as
important to the aviation maintenance technician as it is to the
pilot and the aerospace engineer. The Technician is concerned
with the strength of an aircraft because of the stresses applied
through the forces of Aerodynamics when the aircraft is in flight.
Often responsible for the repair or restoration of aircraft
structures, the technician must know that the repair work will
restore the required strength to the parts that are being repaired.
There are certain physical laws, which describe the behavior of
airflow and define the various aerodynamic forces acting on a
surface. These principles of aerodynamics provide the
foundations for a good understanding of what may be termed the
"theory of flight."
The study of moving air and the force that it produces is referred
to as aerodynamics. As studied by the engineer or scientist,
aerodynamics involves the use of advanced mathematics and
physics; however, this module presents only the basic principles
of the subject and their application to the flight of aircraft, without
the necessity of advanced mathematical analysis. The subject
can therefore be more easily understood by you, the student
whose primary concern lies with the maintenance, operation,
and repair of the aircraft.

Rev. 00 2 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

Rev. 00 3 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE INVISIBILITY OF THE ATMOSPHERE


Air is invisible, and this fact in itself makes flight difficult to
Flight begins when we leave the ground and ends when we understand. When a ship passes through water we can see the
return to earth again. During the intervening period we have "bow wave", the "wash" astern, and all the turbulence which is
been, as it were, in a New World – a world, which, although so caused; when an airplane makes its way through air nothing
near to our own Mother Earth, has very different properties. This appears to happen-yet in reality there has been even more
world is the atmosphere, which surrounds the earth like a huge commotion (Fig. a).
ocean. The atmosphere is composed of air and this is the
medium to which we entrust ourselves when we fly, whether by The aerodynamic forces acting on a surface are due in great part
airplane, airship, or balloon, and therefore we must learn to the properties of the air mass in which the surface is
something about it before we can properly understand the operating.
problems of flight. Air is a mixture of several gases. For practical purposes, it is
Air, in common with other fluids, will, of course, obeys the sufficient to say that air is a mixture of one-fifth oxygen and four-
ordinary laws of fluid pressure- e.g. In still air the pressure at any fifths nitrogen. Pure, dry air contains about by volume
point will be the same in all directions, the pressure will act at - 78% nitrogen,
right angles to any surface with which the air is in contact, and
Archimedes' Principle is true. - 21% oxygen, and
- 0.9% argon.
In addition, air contains about 0.03% carbon dioxide and traces
of several other gases, such as hydrogen, helium, and neon.
The distribution of gases in the air is shown in Figure. b.

Rev. 00 4 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Fig. a Fig. b

Rev. 00 5 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

STATIC PRESSURE
The atmosphere is the whole mass of air extending upward The pressure, as measured, per square inch exerted by a
hundreds of miles. It may be compared to a pile of blankets. The column of mercury does not change with the area of the cross
air in the higher altitudes, like the top blanket of the pile, is under section. If a 1in column of mercury has a cross-sectional area of
much less pressure than the air at the lower altitudes. The air at 10 in2, the pressure will be 0.491 psi even though the total
the earth's surface may be compared to the bottom blanket volume of mercury weighs 4.91 Ib. Likewise, if he 1 in column of
because it supports the weight of all the layers above it. The mercury has a cross-sectional area of 1/4t in2, the pressure will
static pressure of the air at any altitude results from the mass of still be 0.491 psi.
air supported above that level.
The static pressure of the air at any altitude results from the
The term pressure may be defined as force acting upon a unit mass of air supported above that level. At standard sea level
area. For example, if a force of 5 lb is acting against an area of 1 conditions the static pressure of the air is 2,116 psf (or 14.7 psi,
in2, there is a pressure of 5 psi (pounds per square inch); if a 29.92 in. Hg, etc.) And at 40,000 feet altitude this static pressure
force of 20 lb is acting against an area of 2 in2, the pressure is 10 decreases to approximately 19 percent of the sea level value.
psi. Air is always pressed down by the weight of the air above it.
The shorthand notation for the ambient static pressure is "p" and
The atmospheric pressure at any place is equal to the weight of
the standard sea level static pressure is given the subscript "o"
the column of air above it and may be represented by a column
for zero altitude, p°. A more usual reference in aerodynamics
of water or mercury of equal weight. If the cube-shaped box
and performance is the proportion of the ambient static pressure
shown in Figure a, has dimensions of 1 in2 on all sides and is
and the standard sea level static pressure. This static pressure
filled with mercury, the weight of the mercury will be 0.491 lb
ratio is assigned the shorthand notation of δ (delta).
[222.72 g] and a force of 0.491 lb will be acting on the square
inch at the bottom of the box. This means that there will be a Altitude pressure ratio = Ambient static pressure
pressure of 0.491 psi on the bottom of the box. If the height of
Standard sea level static pressure
the box were extended to 4 in with the cross-sectional area
remaining at I in2, the pressure at the bottom would be 4 x 0.491 δ = p / p0
psi, or 1.964 psi.
Many items of gas turbine engine performance are directly related
to some parameter involving the altitude pressure ratio.

Rev. 00 6 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Fig. a

Rev. 00 7 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

DENSITY This is because air is compressible; the air near the earth's
surface is compressed by the air above it, and as we go higher
The density of the air is a property of great importance in the
the pressure becomes less, the air is free to expand and
study of aerodynamics. The density of air is simply the mass of
becomes less dense, so that if we could see a cross-section of
air per cubic foot of volume and is a direct measure of the
the atmosphere it would not appear homogeneous- i.e. of
quantity of matter in each cubic foot of air.
uniform density – but it would become thinner from the earth's
Air is compressible, as illustrated in Figure the air is surface upwards, the final change from atmosphere to space
compressed; it becomes more dense because the same quantity being so gradual as to be indistinguishable.
of air occupies less space. Density varies directly with pressure,
Changes in air density affect the flight of an airplane. With the
with the temperature remaining constant.
same thrust, an airplane can fly faster at a high altitude, where
In the shown Figure, the air in cylinder B has twice the density of the density is low, than at a low altitude, where the density is
the air in cylinder A. For the purposes of aerodynamic greater. This is because the air offers less resistance to the
computations, air density is represented by the Greek letter ρ airplane when it contains a smaller number of particles of air per
(rho), indicating mass density in slugs per cubic foot. The slug is unit volume. However, an often-encountered problem is an
a unit of mass with a value of approximately 32.175 Ib [14.59 kg] inability to hold the thrust constant as altitude increases.
under standard conditions of gravity. The word weight Generally, engine performance will decrease with altitude.
designates the pull in standard gravitational units exerted by the
ALTITUDE DENSITY RATIO
earth upon a piece of matter. The difference between mass and
weight is explained in module 2 since the slug is used to indicate In many parts of aerodynamics it is very convenient to consider
the density of air; it is sufficient for the technician to know that the proportion of the ambient air density and standard sea level
the value of p can be found in standard atmospheric tables. air density. This density ratio is assigned the shorthand notation
of Q (sigma).
Air at standard sea-level conditions weighs 0.0765 lb/ft3 and has
a density of 0.002378 slug/ft3. At an altitude of 40000-ft [12 192 DENSITY RATIO = ambient air density
m], the air density is approximately 25% of the sea-level value. standard sea level air density
σ = ρ / ρ0

Rev. 00 8 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Compressibility of air

Rev. 00 9 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

AIR TEMPERATURE
The general gas law defines the relationship of pressure,
The absolute temperature of the air is another important temperature, and density when there is no change of state or
property. The ordinary temperature measurement by the heat transfer.
Centigrade scale has a datum at the freezing point of water but
Simply stated, this law says that density varies directly with
absolute zero temperature is obtained at a temperature of - 273°
pressure and inversely with temperature. On a hot day, air
Centigrade. Thus, the standard sea level temperature of 15° C.
expands, becoming "thinner" or less dense; conversely, on a
is an absolute temperature of 288°. This scale of absolute
cold day, the air contracts, becoming more dense.
temperature using the Centigrade increments is the Kelvin scale,
e.g., ° K. The shorthand notation for the ambient air temperature Using the properties previously defined,
is "T" and the standard sea level air temperature of 288° K. is
DENSITY RATIO = pressure ratio
signified by T°.
temperature ratio
The more usual reference is the proportion of the ambient air
temperature and the standard sea level. Air temperature. This ρ / ρ0 = (P / P0)
temperature ratio is assigned the shorthand notation of a (theta).
(T / T0)
TEMPERATURE RATIO = Ambient air temperature
σ = δ/θ
Standard sea level air temperature
This relationship has great application in aerodynamics and is
θ = T / T° quite fundamental and necessary in certain parts of airplane
θ = C° + 273 performance

288
Many items of compressibility effects and jet engine performance
involve consideration of the temperature ratio.

Rev. 00 10 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

ADIABATIC LAPSE RATE Keep in mind that the temperature of the air often does not
conform to standards. For example, sometimes the air
The temperature of the air decreases as pressure decreases
temperature 1000-ft or more above the surface of the earth is
with an increase in altitude. This decrease of temperature with
higher than it is at the surface. This condition is called an
altitude is defined as the lapse rate. An adiabatic temperature
inversion. Mountains, clouds, surface winds, bodies of water,
change means that the temperature of the air has changed, but
and sunshine all affect the temperature of the air.
the air has neither gained nor lost heat energy. The temperature
change in such a case is due to a change in pressure. Textbooks on meteorology often state that the temperature
normally decreases with altitude at a rate of approximately 0.5°C
Atmospheric pressure differences cause the air to flow from an
per 100 m, or about 1F per 300 ft. This amounts to a decrease of
area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. Thus air
about 1.52°C for each increase of 1000 ft, which is different from
may flow up and over mountains or from higher elevations down
the decrease under standard conditions. Remember that the
into valleys. As air flows to higher altitudes, it becomes cooler,
textbooks using the foregoing values are discussing average
and as it flows to lower altitudes, it becomes warmer. This is in
rather than standard conditions.
accordance with Charles' law (explained in module 2).
The adiabatic lapse rate varies from 3°F [1.67°C] per 1000 ft
[304.88 m] for moist air to more than 5°F [2.78°C] per 1000 ft for
very dry air. The standard rate shown in the ICAO chart is
approximately 3.5°F (1.980C) per 1000 ft.
Under standard conditions, temperature decreases at
approximately 1.980 C for each increase of 1000 ft of altitude
until an altitude of 38 000-ft [11 585.44 m] is reached. Above this
altitude the temperature remains at approximately -56.5°C.
That portion of the atmosphere below the height at which the
sudden change takes place is called the troposphere, and the
portion above, the stratosphere, the surface between the two
being the tropopause. Most flying still takes place in the
troposphere, and all flights have their beginning and ending in it,
but the stratosphere is within the reach of many types of modern
airplane..

Rev. 00 11 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE ON DENSITY EXAMPLE


The decrease in temperature with altitude in the troposphere If the density of air at sea level is 1.225 kg/m3 when the
should cause the air to contract and tend to become denser, but temperature is 150 C (2880 K) and the pressure 101 kN/m2, or
this effect is partially counteracted by the drop in pressure. The 1013 mb, find the density of air at 6000 m where the temperature
final effect being a reduction of density with increasing altitude. is –240 C (2490 K) and the pressure 47.2 kN/m2 (472mb).
The reduction in density is much more apparent in the
stratosphere as the temperature remains constant hence there is
no compensating effect on density. Data: P0 = 1013 mb P1 = 472 mb
Although air is not quite a "perfect gas," it does obey the gas
laws within reasonable limits, and if the temperature and
T0 = 2880 K T1 = 2490 K
pressure are known at any height, it is possible to estimate the
density at that height from the formula derived from these two
laws i.e.
Take a volume V0 of 1 m3; find the volume of this same mass of
air at 6000 m.
PV = constant or = P0V0 = P1V1
T T0 T1 P0V0 = P1V1
T0 T1
P0, V0, T0 being the pressure, volume, and absolute temperature
of a certain mass of air at sea-level, and P1, V1, T1 the
∴ 1013 x 1 = 472 x V1
corresponding values for the same mass of air at the given
height. 288 249

∴ V1 = 1.86 m3

Rev. 00 12 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Hence 1 m3 at sea level expands to 1.86 m3 at 6000 m, but its


mass is still 1.225 kg.
At 6000 m the mass of 1.86 m2 is 1.225 kg
Mass of 1 m3 is 1.225/1.86 = 0.66 kg
Density of air at 6000 m is therefore 0.66 kg/m3
This method of useful because both the temperature and
pressure of the air can be read direct from instruments, whereas
the density cannot be.
Since the density is inversely proportional to the volume of a
given mass the working of similar examples can be simplified to
some extent by writing the formula in the form

P0 = P1 or P1 = P0 x p 1
p0T0 p1T1 T1 T0 p0

Where p0 and p1 represent the densities at sea level and at


height respectively, and the fraction p1/p0 (sometimes denoted
by σ) is called the relative density.

Rev. 00 13 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

HUMIDITY VISCOSITY
The condition of moisture or dampness in the air is called An important property of air in so far as it affects flight is its
humidity. The maximum amount of water vapor that the air can viscosity. This means the tendency of one layer of air to move
hold depends on the temperature of the air; the higher the with the layer next to it; it is rather similar to the property of
temperature of the air, the more water vapor it can absorb. friction between solids. It is owing to viscosity that eddies are
formed when the air is disturbed by a body passing through it,
By itself, water vapor weighs approximately five eighths as much
and these eddies are responsible for many of the phenomena of
as an equal volume of perfectly dry air. Therefore, when air
flight. Viscosity is possessed to a large degree by fluids such as
contains 5 parts of water vapor and 95 parts of perfectly dry air,
treacle and certain oils, and although the property is much less
it is not as heavy as air containing no moisture. This is because
noticeable in air, it is nonetheless of considerable importance.
water is composed of hydrogen (an extremely light gas) and
oxygen. Air is composed principally of nitrogen, which is heavier The coefficient of absolute viscosity is the proportion between
than oxygen. the shearing stress and velocity gradient for a fluid flow. The
viscosity of gases is unusual in that the viscosity is generally a
Assuming that the temperature and pressure remain the same,
function of temperature alone and an increase in temperature
the density of the air varies with the humidity. On damp days the
increases the viscosity. The coefficient of absolute viscosity is
density of air is less than it is on dry days.
assigned the shorthand notation, µ (mu). Since Many parts of
aerodynamics involve consideration of viscosity and density, a
more usual form of viscosity measure is the proportion of the
coefficient of absolute viscosity and density. This combination is
termed the "kinematic viscosity" and is noted by v (nu).
kinematic viscosity = coefficient of absolute viscosity
density

The kinematic viscosity of air at standard sea level conditions is


0.0001576 square feet per second. At an altitude of 40,000 feet
the kinematic viscosity is increased to 0.0005059 square foot per
second.

Rev. 00 14 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

INERTIA OF THE AIR


It will now be easy to understand that air must also possess, in
common with other substances, the property of inertia and the
tendency to obey the laws of mechanics.
Thus air which is still will tend to remain still, while air which is
moving will tend to remain moving and will resist any change of
speed or direction (First Law);
Secondly, if we wish to alter the state of rest or uniform motion of
air or to change the direction of the airflow, we must apply force
to the air and the more sudden the change of speed or direction
and the greater the mass of air affected, the greater must be the
force applied (Second Law); and,
Thirdly, the application of such a force upon the air will cause an
equal and opposite reaction upon the surface which produces
the force (Third Law)

Rev. 00 15 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ATMOSPHERE A "standard" atmosphere was adopted by the National Advisory
Committee for Aeronautics (now the National Aeronautics and
The reader will have realized that there is liable to be
Space Administration, or NASA). This standard atmosphere is
considerable variation in those properties of the atmosphere with
entirely arbitrary, but it provides a reference and standard of
which we are concerned – namely, temperature, pressure, and
comparison and should be known by all persons engaged in
density. Since the performance of engine, airplane, is
work involving atmospheric conditions. The standard
dependent on these three factors, it will be obvious that the
atmosphere actually represents the mean or average properties
actual performance of an airplane does not give a true basis of
of the atmosphere
comparison with other airplanes, and for this reason an
International Standard Atmosphere has been adopted. Since all aircraft performance is compared and evaluated in the
environment of the standard atmosphere, all of the aircraft
The properties assumed for this standard atmosphere are those
instrumentation is calibrated for the standard atmosphere
given in Figure. If, now, the actual performance of an airplane is
measured under certain conditions of temperature, pressure, Atmospheric pressure at sea level under standard conditions is
and density, it is possible to deduce what would have been the 29.92 inches of mercury (in Hg), or 14.69 psi. Remember that
performance under the conditions of the Standard Atmosphere, 1in of mercury produces a pressure of 0.491psi; therefore 29.92
and thus it can be compared with the performance of some other in Hg will produce a pressure of 14.69psi.
airplane, which has been similarly reduced to standard
(0.491 X 29.92 = 14.69).
conditions.
Atmospheric pressure may be designated by a number of
This procedure is particularly important where such things as
different units. Those more likely to be encountered are
height records are concerned, and it is interesting to note that
the height which is counted is not the height actually achieved, - Inches of mercury,
but a hypothetical height which might have been reached had - Millibars (mbar),
the conditions been those of the Standard Atmosphere! This is
not so unreasonable as it sounds, because there are no reliable - Pounds per square inch,(psi)
means of finding out the actual height reached. - Kilopascals, and
There are now, however, radar altimeters which give the true - Millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
height above the ground.
.

Rev. 00 16 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Variation of temperature, pressure, density and speed of sound with altitude

Rev. 00 17 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Standard atmospheric pressure at 59°F [15°C] is approximately As just mentioned, the space above the mercury in the tube is a
as follows in the units just described: vacuum; this means that the pressure at this point is 0 psia. Psia
indicates,”pounds per square inch absolute." Any gauge marked
- 29.92 inHg
for psia measures pressure from absolute zero rather than from
- 1013 mbar (0°C) ambient pressure zero.
- 14.69 psi Atmospheric pressure pressing down on the surface of any liquid
- 101.04 kPa (60°F) [15.56°C] will cause the liquid to rise in an evacuated tube in the same
manner as mercury; however, the height to which a liquid will
- 760 mmHg rise depends upon the density or specific gravity of the liquid.
The effect of atmospheric pressure was demonstrated early in For example, water will rise to approximately 33.9-ft [10.34 m] in
the seventeenth century by the Italian mathematician and a completely evacuated tube.
scientist Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647). Torricelli had worked Sometimes pressure gauges are scaled for inches of water
with Galileo and had noted his theories regarding the "law" that (inH2O) rather than for inches of mercury because such a gauge
nature abhors a vacuum. To explore the idea, Torricelli filled a is more sensitive and will measure lower pressure differences.
long glass tube, having one end closed, with mercury .He then
placed his thumb over the open end of the tube. Holding the tube A mercury barometer is essentially a mercury-filled glass tube
in a vertical position with the closed end up, he placed the open scaled to show the height of a mercury column. The upper end
end of the tube in a container of mercury and removed his finger of the tube is sealed, and the lower end is exposed to the
from the end of the tube. Some of the mercury immediately pressure being measured. The barometer can be scaled for
flowed out of the tube into the container, leaving a vacuum in the pounds per square inch, inches of mercury, or other unit of
upper end of the tube, as indicated in Figure .The height of the pressure. On weather maps, the unit of pressure is the millibars
column of mercury remaining in the tube was measured and (mbar), which is approximately one thousandth of a bar. For
found to be approximately 30 in [762 mm]. standard purposes, the sea-level pressure is set at 1013 mbar
(standard conditions). The bar is therefore the approximate
At sea level under standard conditions, the height of such a atmospheric pressure at sea level.
column of mercury is 29.92 in [760 mm]. Therefore we say that
standard atmospheric pressure at sea level is 29.92 in high. 1 inHg equals 33.86 mbar.
Barometers and sensitive altimeters are scaled to provide
pressure information in inches of mercury.

Rev. 00 18 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Rev. 00 19 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Since air has weight, it is easy to


recognize that the pressure of the
atmosphere will vary with altitude.
This is illustrated in figure Note
that at 20000ft the pressure is less
than half the sea level pressure.
This means that more than half the
atmosphere lies below the altitude
of 20000ft even though the outer
half extends hundreds of miles
above the earth.

Pressure at different altitudes

Rev. 00 20 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

WINDS AND UP-AND-DOWN CURRENTS Even when the surface of the ground is comparatively flat, as on
the average airfield, the wind is retarded near the ground by the
Air flows from regions of high-pressure to regions where the
roughness of the surface, and successive layers are held back
pressure is lower, and this is the cause of wind, or bodily
by the layers below them-due to viscosity- and so the wind
movement of large portions of the atmosphere. Winds vary from
velocity gradually increases from the ground upwards. This
the extensive trade winds caused by belts of high and low
phenomenon is called wind gradient. When the wind velocity is
pressure surrounding the earth's surface to the purely local gusts
high it is very appreciable, and since most of the effect takes
and "bumps,' caused by local differences of temperature and
place within a few meters of the ground it has to be reckoned
pressure. On the earth's surface we are usually only concerned
with when landing.
with the horizontal velocity of winds, but when flying the rising
convection currents and the corresponding downward Quite apart from this wind gradient very close to the ground,
movements of the air are also important. The study of winds, of there is often also a wind gradient on a larger scale. Generally,
up-and-down convection currents, of cyclones and anticyclones, it can be said that on the average day the wind velocity
and the weather changes produced by them and these form the increases with height for many thousands of feet, and it also
fascinating science of meteorology, and the reader who is tends to veer, i.e. to change in a clockwise direction (from north
interested is referred to books on that subject. towards east, etc.); at the same time it becomes more steady
In the lower regions of the atmosphere conditions are apt to be and there are fewer bumps.
erratic; this is especially so within the first few hundred feet. It
often happens that as we begin to climb the temperature rises
instead of falling –called an inversion of temperature. This in
itself upsets the stability of the air, and further disturbance's may
be caused by the sun heating some parts of the earth's surface
more than others, causing thermal up-currents, and by the wind
blowing over uneven ground, hangars, hills, and soon.
On the windward side of a large building, or of a hill, the wind is
deflected upwards, and on the leeward side it is apt to leave the
contour altogether, forming large eddies which may result in a
flow of air near the ground back towards the building or up the
far side of the hill, that is to say in the opposite direction to that of
the main wind.

Rev. 00 21 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only
Module 8 – BASIC AERODYNAMICS
CATEGORY B1/B2– MECHANICAL/AVIONICS Sub Module 8.1 – PHYSICS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

STUDENT NOTES:

Rev. 00 22 8.1
Oct 2006 For Training Purposes Only