Elevation, abbreviated as EL, is the vertical distance or height of a point or location above a reference point, usually measured in units of length such as meters or feet. It indicates the altitude or position of a point in relation to sea level or a specified datum. The reference point for measuring elevation is often mean sea level (MSL), which is a standard reference plane representing the average height of the ocean's surface over a specified period of time. Elevation is then determined by measuring the vertical distance from the reference point to the point of interest.
Elevation can have various applications and implications. It is used in mapping and cartography to create topographic maps, which depict the height and shape of the Earth's surface. Elevation data is crucial for urban planning, engineering projects, and environmental assessments, as it helps in understanding the terrain, slope, and potential flood areas. In aviation, elevation is essential for aircraft navigation and obstacle avoidance. It is also relevant for weather forecasting and climate studies, as elevation influences temperature, precipitation patterns, and atmospheric conditions.
Elevation is an important concept in geography, cartography, and surveying, as it provides information about the topography and relief of the Earth's surface. It is typically measured using instruments like GPS (Global Positioning System), altimeters, or surveying techniques. Different regions and countries may use different reference datums or vertical datums to measure elevation. Commonly used vertical datums include the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) in North America and the Ordnance Datum in the United Kingdom.
It's important to note that elevation is a measure of vertical height and does not provide information about the horizontal position or coordinates of a point. For that, latitude and longitude coordinates are typically used in conjunction with elevation to precisely locate a point on the Earth's surface.