High Pressure vs Low Pressure: Difference and Comparison

Air pressure is known as the weight of the air above us. It can be high or low pressure. 

Key Takeaways

  1. High-pressure systems have air that sinks, leading to clear skies and calm weather, while low-pressure systems have rising air, causing cloud formation and precipitation.
  2. High-pressure systems circulate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere; low-pressure systems circulate in the opposite direction.
  3. Low-pressure systems are associated with stormy weather and stronger winds, whereas high-pressure systems bring about fair and stable weather conditions.

High Pressure vs Low Pressure

High pressure is a situation where the atmospheric pressure is more than the pressure of the surrounding area, so the air sinks and becomes warm. Low pressure is a state where the atmospheric pressure is less than the surrounding area, causing the air to cool as it rises up.

High Pressure vs Low Pressure
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There is a reduction in cloud formation as the air descends and the weather condition settles. The air also warms up. 

The air gets cooler, and water vapour condenses, which causes clouds to appear. The weather is unsettled in a depression. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHigh PressureLow Pressure
Definition During high pressure, the atmospheric pressure is more than that of its surrounding area.During low pressure, the atmospheric pressure is less than that of its surrounding area.
Condition of Air The air sinks and becomes warm.The air rises up and becomes cool.
Movement Clockwise direction.Anti-clockwise direction.
Weather qualityThe weather conditions settles up and there are no clouds so the sky clear up. The weather is unsettled with rapid increase in cloud formation which leads to precipitation of rain.
Other nameAnticycloneDepression

What Is High Pressure? 

A high-pressure area is where the atmospheric pressure is more than its surrounding environment. Such areas where the pressure is above average are known as anticyclones.

The weather in a winter anticyclone

It lasts for a long time and continues during the day due to less heat from the sun. The water droplets that form gradually evaporate away. 

The weather in a summer anticyclone

The air descends, and there is heat which causes the water to evaporate in the air. There are very few clouds in the air, and the sky gets cleared up.

high pressure

What Is Low Pressure?

Usually, it takes place in the mid-latitude temperature zones, and the process is known as cyclogenesis.

  • The first one is the early stage.
  • Then comes the mature stage. 
  • The third one is the decay stage. 
  • And lastly, the dissipation stage. 

A low-pressure system has lower pressure at its centre, and the winds blow towards it.

Weather in the winters

During the winter season, the conditions are stormy or wintry. The position of a jet stream is further south than what is in the summer.

Weather in the summers

During the summer season, low pressure can lead to prolonged rainfall. Sometimes, in extreme conditions, floods may also occur, which can cause chaos.

low pressure

Main Differences Between High and Low Pressure

  1. The high pressure is known as an anticyclone, and the weather is different in both summer and winter. On the other hand, low pressure is known as depression. 
  2. The weather conditions settle up in high pressure, whereas the conditions are unsettled in low pressure. 
Difference Between High Pressure and Low Pressure
References
  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/nmat716
  2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/241/4868/913.extract

Last Updated : 05 September, 2023

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