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# What is a Barometer Altimeter Compass?

Article Details
• Written By: Dee S.
• Edited By: Jenn Walker
2003-2020
Conjecture Corporation
wiseGEEK Slideshows

A barometer altimeter compass is an instrument that is most often used in outdoor activities. Either handheld or as a wrist watch, this instrument has three vital functions. First, it functions as a barometer, measuring the pressure in the atmosphere. Then, it functions as an altimeter, measuring elevation. Third, it functions as a compass, helping a person figure out which direction she is traveling.

Although these devices can each be purchased separately, having them all on one instrument is both convenient and much lighter weight. Anyone may opt to purchase a barometer altimeter compass, but it is most beneficial to people who often work or play in the outdoors. For example, runners, climbers, skiers, and fishers may all use the various functions in their sports, but miners, geologists, environmentalists, and park rangers may also find the various functions of a barometer altimeter compass useful.

The barometer function of the barometer altimeter compass is used to analyze the pressure front in the atmosphere that may be bringing rain or snow to an area. Knowing when the weather is going to change is essential for some adventurers. For example, a mountain climber may want to start heading off the top of a mountain if the area is about to get rain or snow. In the alternative, a naturalist or botanist may want to remain in a particular area to observe plants or animal behavior in rain or snow.

The altimeter function of the barometer altimeter compass is used to measure elevations. Many models are able to record the elevation of a specific location up to 30,000 feet (about 9,144 m). In addition, some models calculate the rate of ascent or decent. This feature is useful for people who are interested in how long it takes them to climb up a mountain or ski down its face, for example.

The compass function of the barometer altimeter compass is used to indicate direction. Generally, a compass needle will always point toward the north. The person holding the compass can then figure out which direction is south, east, or west. Many of the barometer altimeter compasses models are digital. In those cases, the computer features in the instruments tell people exactly which direction they are facing.

Although the barometer altimeter compass may be considered a fun gadget, it may also be considered a life-saving survival device. Many backpackers, hikers, or backcountry skiers carry these instruments. In a time of need, a barometer altimeter compass may be the very thing that can encourage a person to leave before a bad storm arrives or help them find their way if they become lost.