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Barometer vs. Hygrometer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 6, 2023
A barometer measures atmospheric pressure, while a hygrometer measures humidity levels.

Key Differences

A barometer is an instrument that measures the atmospheric pressure, essential for forecasting weather and determining altitude. It operates based on the principle that the pressure exerted by the atmosphere affects the height of a column of liquid. A hygrometer, on the other hand, gauges the amount of moisture in the air, or humidity. This is crucial in weather forecasting, and it aids in maintaining the right humidity levels in various environments, providing comfort and preventing material degradation.
Barometers come in various forms, including mercury, aneroid, and electronic, each employing different methods to assess atmospheric pressure. A hygrometer also exists in different types like psychrometers, dew point hygrometers, and capacitance hygrometers, each using distinctive techniques to determine air moisture content.
Barometers and hygrometers are vital instruments in meteorology. The barometer's readings are indispensable for predicting weather changes, with falling pressure indicating bad weather and rising pressure suggesting fair weather. Conversely, a hygrometer’s readings enable the anticipation of precipitation levels, providing insights into whether the atmosphere is humid or dry.
Barometers play an influential role in various fields such as aviation and marine navigation, helping determine altitude and forecast weather, ensuring safe travels. Similarly, hygrometers have significant applications in industries like agriculture, where maintaining optimal humidity is critical for crop growth and storage.
While both barometers and hygrometers are important atmospheric measuring tools, their functionalities differ significantly; a barometer measures pressure, and a hygrometer measures humidity, each contributing uniquely to environmental and weather observations.

Comparison Chart


Measures atmospheric pressure to forecast weather and determine altitude.
Measures the amount of humidity (moisture) in the air.

Measurement Unit

Typically measured in inches of mercury (inHg), millibars (mb), or hectopascals (hPa).
Expressed as a percentage (%), indicating relative humidity.


Based on the principle of a liquid (mercury or water) responding to changes in atmospheric pressure.
Works on the principle of changes in temperature, mass, or other properties, which can be influenced by humidity.


Mercury Barometer, Aneroid Barometer, and Electronic Barometer are common types.
Psychrometers, Mechanical or Hair Tension Hygrometers, Dew Point Hygrometers, and Electronic Capacitive Hygrometers are some types.

Usage Area

Utilized primarily in meteorology for weather prediction and in aviation for altitude determination.
Extensively used in various fields including meteorology, industrial applications, and residential areas for comfort and health purposes.

Barometer and Hygrometer Definitions


Barometers are vital for weather forecasting.
Meteorologists rely on barometers to predict upcoming weather conditions.


A hygrometer is a device that measures the amount of moisture in the air.
A hygrometer is essential in a greenhouse to maintain optimal humidity for the plants.


A barometer can also determine altitude.
Mountaineers use barometers to assess their height above sea level.


Hygrometers are crucial for weather predictions.
Meteorologists use hygrometers to understand the likelihood of precipitation.


Barometers help in navigation, especially in aviation.
Pilots use barometers to ensure they are flying at the correct altitude.


Hygrometers are used in various industries like agriculture and food storage.
In food storage facilities, hygrometers ensure the right humidity to prevent spoilage.


A barometer is an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure.
The barometer showed a sharp drop in pressure, indicating an approaching storm.


Hygrometers help in maintaining comfort in living and working environments.
We installed a hygrometer in the office to ensure a comfortable working atmosphere.


Barometers come in different types such as mercury and aneroid.
Many modern barometers are digital and provide accurate pressure readings.


Different types of hygrometers include psychrometers and capacitance hygrometers.
Capacitance hygrometers are popular for their accuracy and reliability in measuring humidity.


An instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure, used especially in weather forecasting.


Any of several instruments that measure atmospheric humidity.


Something that registers or responds to fluctuations; an indicator
Opinion polls serve as a barometer of the public mood.


(meteorology) An instrument that measures the humidity of the air or other gases, especially the relative humidity.


An instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure.


An instrument for measuring the degree of moisture of the atmosphere.


Anything used as a gauge or indicator.


Measuring instrument for measuring the relative humidity of the atmosphere


An instrument for determining the weight or pressure of the atmosphere, and hence for judging of the probable changes of weather, or for ascertaining the height of any ascent.


An instrument that measures atmospheric pressure


What is a mercury barometer?

A mercury barometer is a type of barometer that uses mercury to measure atmospheric pressure.

Are barometers used in aviation?

Yes, barometers are essential in aviation for determining altitude and forecasting weather.

Can a hygrometer help in agriculture?

Yes, hygrometers are crucial in agriculture to maintain optimal humidity for crops.

What are the types of hygrometers?

Hygrometers come in several types, including psychrometers and capacitance hygrometers.

What does a barometer measure?

A barometer measures atmospheric pressure.

In which unit does a hygrometer display readings?

Hygrometers typically display readings in percentage (%), indicating relative humidity.

Can hygrometers detect moisture in walls?

Yes, some specialized hygrometers can detect moisture content in walls and other materials.

Can barometers predict weather changes?

Yes, barometers can indicate weather changes, with falling pressure signaling bad weather.

How does a hygrometer function?

A hygrometer functions by measuring the moisture content in the air.

Is the hygrometer essential for human comfort?

Yes, hygrometers help maintain comfortable humidity levels in living and working spaces.

Are digital barometers available?

Yes, digital barometers are available and are known for their accuracy and convenience.

How do barometers and hygrometers differ?

Barometers measure atmospheric pressure, while hygrometers measure humidity levels.

Do barometers have applications in marine navigation?

Yes, barometers are vital in marine navigation for weather prediction and determining altitude.

Is a hygrometer important for weather forecasting?

Yes, hygrometers play a pivotal role in weather forecasting by measuring humidity levels.

What units are used in barometers?

Barometers use units like pascals, millibars, and inches of mercury (inHg).
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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