To calculate pressure at a given altitude, the following formula is used:

$p = p_0 \cdot \left(1 - \frac{L \cdot h}{T_0} \right)^\frac{g \cdot M}{R \cdot L}$

(the values can be found here)

This formula is great, but only works completely with the US Standard Atmosphere. I really want to use ISA (International Standard Atmosphere) more, because it accounts for the dynamics of the atmosphere much better. The problem is that the Tropopause has a Lapse rate ($L$) of 0. I don't know how to get that to work in this formula because that would involve dividing by zero.

Any ideas?

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I would not claim to understand what precisely is going on here, but other things remnaining constant, mathematically you have:

$$\lim_{L \rightarrow 0} \quad p_0 \cdot \left(1 - \frac{L \cdot h}{T_0} \right)^\frac{g \cdot M}{R \cdot L} = p_0 \cdot \exp \left( - \frac{ h \cdot g \cdot M}{T_0 \cdot R} \right)$$

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  • $\begingroup$ Woah, I see what you did there. I'm not so great at math so this approach never even ran across my mind. Thanks, Henry. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Hotchkiss Jan 11 '12 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, this is the right way to go about it. If you think about it, the behavior of $p$ when $L = 0$ should be indistinguishable from the behavior of $p$ when $L$ is just really really small, so there should be a well-defined limit. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jan 11 '12 at 3:34

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