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# Water Vapor Pressure Formulations

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Saturation vapor pressure formulations
Holger Vömel

A large number of saturation vapor pressure equations exists to calculate the pressure of water
vapor over a surface of liquid water or ice. This is a brief overview of the most important equations
used. Several useful reviews of the existing vapor pressure curves are listed in the references.
Please note the discussion of the WMO formulations.
1) Vapor pressure over liquid water below 0°C
Goff Gratch equation
(Smithsonian Tables, 1984, after Goff and Gratch, 1946):

Log10 ew = -7.90298 (373.16/T-1)
+ 5.02808 Log10(373.16/T)

[1]

- 1.3816 10-7 (1011.344 (1-T/373.16) -1)
+ 8.1328 10-3 (10-3.49149 (373.16/T-1) -1)
+ Log10(1013.246)
with T in [K] and ew in [hPa]
Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO Guide)
(WMO, 2008)

ew = 6.112 e(17.62 t/(243.12 + t))
with t in [°C] and ew in [hPa]

[2]

WMO
(Goff, 1957):

Log10 ew = 10.79574 (1-273.16/T)
- 5.02800 Log10(T/273.16)

[3]

+ 1.50475 10-4 (1 - 10(-8.2969*(T/273.16-1)))
+ 0.42873 10-3 (10(+4.76955*(1-273.16/T)) - 1)
+ 0.78614
with T in [K] and ew in [hPa]
(Note: WMO based its recommendation on a paper by Goff (1957), which is shown here. The
recommendation published by WMO (1988) has several typographical errors and cannot be
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0.14452093 10-7 T3 + 0.76955*(1-273.t / 234. Note the different sign of the exponent.. 1967) ew = 6. . 1981) ew = 6.5) t / (257.65459673 101 Log(T) with T in [K] and ew in [Pa] Buck (Buck Research Manual (1996). 1980) ew = 6.67 * t / (t+243.1) in the fourth line compared to the original publication by Goff (1957). L.16) / (T – 35.) Hyland and Wexler (Hyland and Wexler.433502 * Log(T) with T in [K] and ew in [hPa] [7] Magnus Tetens (Murray. Meteorol.41764768 10-4 T2 . New equations for computing vapor pressure and enhancement factor.13914993 101 .9385 / T + 16.m. 2000) shows the term +0.5) with t in [°C] and e w in [hPa] [9] Murphy and Koop (Murphy and Koop.86) with T in [K] and ew in [hPa] [8] Bolton (Bolton. A corrigendum (WMO..502 t / (240.eas.1121 e(18.42873 10-3 (10(-4. The earlier 1984 edition shows the correct formula.711193 10-2 * T + 1.678 . A.ca/jdwilson/EAS372_13/Vomel_CIRES_satvp. 1983): Log ew = -0. used.14 + t) ew = 6..673952 10-5 * T2 + 2.269388 * (T-273. Appl.112 e17.16/T)) . 1527-1532. J.1121 e17.ualberta. 20. 1994) Log ew = -6096.Water Vapor Pressure Formulations 2 de 8 http://faculty.2.58002206 104 / T [4] + 0.48640239 10-1 T + 0.635794 .. 2005) 16/11/2015 06:16 p. updated equation from Buck.0.97 + t) with t in [°C] and ew in [hPa] [1981] [1996] [5] [6] Sonntag (Sonntag.1078 e17.

1993]. it is to be assumed that Goff (1957) was to be recommended.84408259 ν1. The comparison for the liquid saturation vapor pressure equations [2]-[11] with the Goff-Gratch equation [1] in figure 1 shows that uncertainties at low temperatures become increasingly large and reach the measurement uncertainty claimed by some RH sensors.0415 (T .22 / T . 2002) Log (ew/22.eas.. however.000367 T + Tanh{0.Water Vapor Pressure Formulations http://faculty.5 . Detwiler [1983] claims some indirect evidence to support the extrapolation of the Goff-Gratch equation down to temperatures of -60°C. At -60°C the deviations range from -6% to +3% and at -70°C the deviations range fro m -9% to +6%. The Goff Gratch equation [1] for the vapor pressure over liquid water covers a region of -50°C to 10 2°C [Gibbins 1990]. The differences between Goff (1957) and Goff-Gratch (1946) are less than 1% over the entire temperature range. This incorrect formulation is in closer agreement with the Hyland and Wexler formulation.218.7866497 ν3 + 22. WMO No.096/T * ((-7. The Hyland and Wexler formulation is used by Vaisala and is very similar to the formula by Sonntag [7]. This work is generally considered the reference equation but other equations are in use in the meteorological community [Elliott and Gaffen. 8) formulation [2] is widely used in Meteorology and appeals for its simplicity.5)) [11] with T in [K] and ew in [Pa] and ν = 1 .ualberta.014025 T) [10] with T in [K] and ew in [Pa] International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam (IAPWS) Formulation 1995 (Wagner and Pruß.064e6) = 647. Together with the formulas by Bolton [9] and Buck [6] it has the same mathematical form as older the Maguns Tetens [8] formula and differs only in the value of the parameters.878 .15. this currently remains an open issue..85951783 ν + 1. The formulation published by WMO (1988) cannot be used due to several typographical errors.1331.80122502 ν7. 49.6763.6807411 ν3.21 Log(T) + 0.22 / T . However. There is a very limited number of measurements of the vapor pressure of water over supercooled liquid water at temperatures below °C.096 At low temperatures most of these are based on theoretical studies and only a small number are based on actual measurements of the vapor pressure.44523 Log(T) + 0. The WMO (WMO No.9. Technical Regulations) recommended formula [3] is a derivative of the Goff-Gratch equation. The WMO Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO Guide.5 .842763 . . The corrected formulation WMO (2000) differs in the sign of one exponent compared to Goff (1957). 3 de 8 16/11/2015 06:16 p.4. Log ew = 54.T/647. For RH values reported in the low and mid troposphere the influence of the saturation vapor pressure formula used is small and only significant for climatological studies [Elliott and Gaffen 1993].9618719 ν4 + 1.8)} · (53. originally published by Goff (1957).ca/jdwilson/EAS372_13/Vomel_CIRES_satvp.m.11.

ca/jdwilson/EAS372_13/Vomel_CIRES_satvp. The review of vapor pressures of ice and supercooled water by Murphy and Kopp (2005) provides a formulation [10] based on recent data on the molar heat capacity of supercooled water. However. The study by Fukuta and Gramada [2003] shows direct measurements of the vapor pressure over liquid water down to -38°C.m.Water Vapor Pressure Formulations 4 de 8 http://faculty. the IAPWS formulation 1995 (Wagner and Pruß. [2003] are shown as well..16 K < T < 647. The IAWPS formulation 1995 (Wagner and Pruß.096 K. 2005). Their result indicates tha t at the lowest temperatures the measured vapor pressure may be as much as 10% lower than the value given by the Smithsonian Tables [1]. Figure 1: Comparison of equations [2]-[11] with the Goff Gratch equation [1] for the saturation pressure of water vapor over liquid water.. The comparison of the the vapor pressure equations with the formulation by Murphy and Koop is shown in figure 2. . This is based on Goff (1957) with the different sign of one exponent. 16/11/2015 06:16 p. The measurements by Fukuta et al. and as shown in figure 1 lower as any other vapor pressure formulation. which have been measured both for bulk as for small water droplets. 2002) are valid only above the triple point.eas. It is important to note that in the upper troposphere. water vapor measurements reported in the WMO convention as relative humidity with respect to liquid water depend critically on the saturation vapor pressure equation that was used to calculate the RH value. 2002) is valid in the temperature range 273. (*)WMO (2000) is also shown. these data are in conflict with measured molar heat capacity data (Muprhy and Koop. Like most other formulations.ualberta.

2) Vapor pressure over ice Goff Gratch equation (Smithsonian Tables.ca/jdwilson/EAS372_13/Vomel_CIRES_satvp.16) + Log10(6.): 16/11/2015 06:16 p. The equations by Hyland and Wexler [4]. 1984): Log10 ei = -9.Water Vapor Pressure Formulations 5 de 8 http://faculty.3. likely due to a typographical error..m.eas.T/ 273.1) .09718 (273. see reference below) and the equation by Sonntag [7] are the most commonly used equations among radiosonde manufacturers and should be used in upper air applications to avoid inconsistencies.16/ T) + 0.16/T . Figure 2: Comparison of several equations with the equation by Sonntag [7] for the saturation pressure of water vapor over liquid water. 1983.1071) with T in [K] and ei in [hPa] [12] Hyland and Wexler (Hyland and Wexler.876793 (1 .. the nearly identical equation by Wexler (1976.56654 Log10(273. .ualberta.

. since these instruments directly measure the temperature at which a frost layer and the overlying vapor are in equilibrium.96778430 10-2 T + 0.16) / (T – 7..eas..63925247 .5 / T + 12. 2005) Log ei = 9.ualberta.8745584 * (T-273. It is generally considered the reference equation.56745359 104 / T [13] 101 + 0.m. The equations discussed here are mostly of interest for frost-point measurements using chilled mirror hygrometers. however. relative humidity is 16/11/2015 06:16 p. Log ei = -0.Water Vapor Pressure Formulations 6 de 8 http://faculty.5723. 1996) ei = 6.66) with T in [K] and ew in [hPa] [15] Buck (Buck Research Manual.0.036 .55+t) ei = 6. In meteorological practice. 1967) ei = 6.550426 .0.94840240 10-12 T4 + 0.537 with T in [K] and ei in [Pa] [18] Murphy and Koop (Murphy and Koop.62 + t)) with t in [°C] and e i in [hPa] [14] Magnus Teten (Murray.1115 with t in [°C] and e i in [hPa] [1981] [1996] [16] [17] Marti Mauersberger (Marti and Mauersberger.452 t / (272.112 e(22.46 t/(272.82 + t) e22.20747825 10-8 T3 .ca/jdwilson/EAS372_13/Vomel_CIRES_satvp. 2008) ei = 6.t / 333.00728332 T with T in [K] and ei in [Pa] [19] The Goff Gratch equation [11] for the vapor pressure over ice covers a region of -100°C to 0°C. other equations have also been widely used. 1993) Log10 ei = -2663.1078 e21.265/T + 3.1115 e(23.53068 Log(T) .0.7) t / (279.62215701 10-6 T2 + 0.41635019 101 Log(T) with T in [K] and ei in [Pa] Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO Guide) (WMO.

m. Monthly Weather Review. For the current discussion it has been omitted. The Marti Mauersberger equation is the only equation based on direct measurements of the vapor pressure down to temperatures of 170 K. Not shown is the WMO recommended equation for vapor pressure over ice. that with the exception of the Magnus Teten formula. These formulations include an enhancement factor. which corrects for the differences between pure vapor and moist air. L. Buck Research. Extrapolation of the Goff-Gratch formula for vapor pressure over liquid water at temperatures below 0°C. which manufactures frost-point hygrometers. Buck Research Manuals.ualberta. A. Meteorol. 1980. 1996 Detwiler. The comparison of equations 12-17 with the Goff Gratch equation (figure 3) shows.ca/jdwilson/EAS372_13/Vomel_CIRES_satvp. 20. uses the Buck formulations in their instruments. J.eas.. New equations for computing vapor pressure and enhancement factor.. Buck. Figure 3: Comparison of equations [13]-[18] with the Goff Gratch equation [12] for the saturation pressure of water vapor over ice.Water Vapor Pressure Formulations http://faculty. J. 3) References Bolton.5%. This enhancement factor is a weak function of temperature and pressure and corrects about 0. 7 de 8 16/11/2015 06:16 p. 1981... The computation of equivalent potential temperature. . 1527-1532. since it is nearly identical with the Goff-Gratch equation [12]. and smaller than typical instr umental errors of frost-point hygrometers of 5-10%. 1046-1053.5% at sea level. 108. A... given over liquid water (see section 1) and care needs to be taken to consider this difference. D.. the deviations in the typical meteorological range of -100°C to 0°C are less than 2. Appl.

P. Journal of Research of the National Bureau of Standards. 1991. and T. . Appendix A. 3. Atmos. General meteorological standards and recommended practices.. Geneva August 2000. Pruß. Geneva 1988. J. Fukuta. D. 387-535.Voemel@Colorado. 74. W. N. F. N. 1967. 89(2A). Meteorol. 1990. Review of the vapour pressures of ice and supercooled water for atmospheric applications.. Meteorol. World Meteorological Organization. The IAPWS formulation 1995 for the thermodynamic properties of ordinary water substance for general and scientific use. P. 1983. and S. M.. Z. Elliott. and D. 1983. On the computation of saturation vapor pressure. Royal Met. Hyland. 2002. Appendix A. IDL source for all equations 1 December 2011 Holger.ca/jdwilson/EAS372_13/Vomel_CIRES_satvp. Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observation. New York. 22. 6. J.. and D. A. Geneva 2008. 1323-1325. R. A. J. J.m.. Gaffen. Wexler.15K. Annales Geophys. Sci. Vapor Pressure Formulation for Water in Range 0 to 100°C.. 1984. WMO-No. F. 2005. Ref. pp. Saturation pressure of water on the new Kelvin temperature scale. and K Mauersberger. GRL 20. 31... 503. 60. 80A. W. and C. Am. Formulations for the Thermodynamic Properties of the saturated Phases of H2O from 173. On the utility of radiosonde humidity archives for climate studies. Soc. Soc. 1957. J. 72. Koop. J. Phys. ASHRAE Trans. Meteorol.Water Vapor Pressure Formulations 8 de 8 http://faculty. D.edu 16/11/2015 06:16 p. Effects of conversion algorithms on reported upper air dewpoint depressions. pp 347-354. Vapor pressure measurement of supercooled water. corrigendum. Gibbins. WMO Technical Regulations. Murray. Appl. Appendix 4B. Marti. 2003. Wexler. presented at the 52nd annual meeting of the American society of heating and ventilating engineers. Meteorol. W. 1871-1875. Sonntag. Chem.. J. Gaffen. 350. WMO-No. 49.eas. A survey and new measurements of ice vapor pressure at temperatures between 170 and 250 K. 1994... 500-519. Canada. 5th ed. W. Goff. Appl. World Meteorological Organization. Que. 1507-1520. Transactions of the American society of heating and ventilating engineers.. 131. General meteorological standards and recommended practices. 1946. Bull. Elliott. pp 95-122. J. presented at the semi-annual meeting of the American society of heating and ventilating engineers. Bull. Gratch. 859-886. 51-66. Wagner W. Am. and A. 775-785. 49.. Quart. A. Murray Bay. Tables. C. Low-pressure properties of water from -160 to 212 F. and A. 8. J. Soc. 363-366. World Meteorological Organization. Advancements in the field of hygrometry. 1993. Data.ualberta. Meteorol. 8 (CIMO Guide). J. M. 203-204. WMO Technical Regulations.. A survey and comparison of relationships for the determination of the saturation vapour pressure over plane surfaces of pure water and of pure ice. Smithsonian Met. Gramada. WMO-No.. 1539-1565. 1993 Murphy.15K to 473. in Transactions of the American society of heating and ventilating engineers. Goff. 1976. A Revision..