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6.

5 Barometric Leveling

Barometer - an instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure. It was invented in 1643 by the Italian
scientist Evangelista Torricelli, who used a column of water in a tube 34 ft (10.4 m) long. This
inconvenient water column was soon replaced by mercury, which is denser than water and requires a
tube about 3 ft (0.9 m) long.

The altimeter is an instrument which measures vertical distance with respect to a reference level. The
altimeter is an instrument that measures the altitude of the land surface or any object such as an
airplane. Louis Paul Cailletet was the French physicist who invented the altimeter and the high-pressure
manometer.

In 1928, German inventor Paul Kollsman changed the world of aviation with the invention of the world's
first accurate altimeter.

Atmospheric Pressure

• The air surrounding the earth is known as the atmosphere. It has weight and it exerts a certain
amount of pressure on bodies and is referred to as atmospheric pressure
• At sea level the atmospheric pressure is greater than at higher ground levels
• There is always a corresponding decrease in atmospheric pressure as the altitude increases

Barometric Leveling

• It is based on the basic principle that the pressure caused by the weight of the column of air
above the observer decreases (or increases) as the observer goes higher (or lower) in elevation
• However, this exist only during standard conditions, there are many varying conditions that
affects the accuracy of barometric leveling, these are
o Temperature
o Humidity
o The procedure of survey
o Ability and experience of the survey party, and
o The vertical and horizontal distance between the field stations

• Is ideally suited for determining large differences in elevation in rough or mountainous terrain
where extensive areas need to be covered – usually for reconnaissance and preliminary surveys
• Barometric leveling results are better obtained when the weather is stable and climatic
conditions remain constant

Altimeter Surveys

The two principal methods by which altimeter surveys may be conducted are

1. Single-Base Method

• Two altimeters and two thermometers are employed


• One altimeter remains at a reference base whose elevation is known while the other
altimeter (the roving altimeter), is taken to other points or field stations whose
elevations are to be determined
• The difference in readings corrected for temperature and pressure changes will give the
desired elevations
Disadvantages:
• Need to apply correction for the effects of temperature and relative humidity

Base
altimeter

Roving altimeter

Single-base method

2. Two-Base Method

• At a suitable low point within the area being surveyed, one base is established
while the second base is positioned at a much higher elevation
• One altimeter is employed at each base and simultaneous readings are taken
and recorded at predefined time intervals
• A third altimeter, the roving altimeter, is carried and read also at predefined
intervals at the various field stations over the area

Two-base method Upper


base

Roving altimeter
Lower
base
Example: Barometric Leveling
At a benchmark whose elevation is 102 meters above mean sea level, the index reading of altimeters A,
B, and C were recorded as 390, 388, and 394, respectively. Altimeter A is kept at the benchmark (the low
base), altimeter B is taken to a benchmark at an elevation of 525 m (the high base), and altimeter C is
employed as a roving altimeter. Five sets of readings were obtained by using each altimeter at intervals
of 15 minutes starting at 10:00AM and were recorded as follows:

Altimeter A: 393, 394, 393, 394, and 393


Altimeter B: 816, 817, 819, 820, and 818
Altimeter C: 485, 558, 556, 444, and 479

The readings by the roving altimeter were taken on five different field stations. Determine the elevation
above mean sea level of these stations and tabulate values accordingly.

Solution:
a. Determining Index Correction (IC)

ICA = 390 – 390 = 0


ICB = 388 – 390 = - 2
ICC = 394 – 390 = + 4

b. Adjusting the observed readings


Rdg HB Elev. HB
- for altimeter A, no adjustment

- for readings by Altimeter B:


Rdg Sta. Elev. Sta.
1. 816 – 2 = 814
2. 817 – 2 = 815
3. 819 – 2 = 817 Rdg LB Elev. LB
4. 820 – 2 = 818
5. 818 – 2 = 816

- for readings by altimeter C:

1. 485 + 4 = 489
2. 558 + 4 = 562
3. 556 + 4 = 560
4. 444 + 4 = 448
5. 479 + 4 = 483

c. Calculating elevations of field stations

Elev. Station = [(Elev. HB – Elev. LB)/(Rdg. HB – Rdg. LB)](Rdg Sta – Rdg. LB) +
Elev. LB

Elev. J = [(525 – 102)/(814 – 393)](489 – 393) + 102 = 96 + 102 = 198 m


Elev. K = [(525 – 102)/(815 – 394)](562 – 394) + 102 = 169 + 102 = 271 m
Elev. L = [(525 – 102)/(817 – 393)](560 – 393) + 102 = 167 + 102 = 269 m
Elev. M = [(525 – 102)/(818 – 394)](448 – 394) + 102 = 54 + 102 = 156 m
Elev. P = [(525 – 102)/(816 – 393)](483 – 393) + 102 = 90 + 102 = 192 m