Why Is Topography Important?


Typography maps use contour lines, tints and shading to denote three-dimensional landforms and terrains (land) on a two-dimensional surface (map). It differs from other maps as it accurately depicts variations in elevations (relief) and the natural and man-made features on the ground---ideal for outdoor enthusiasts as well as engineers and geoscientists, such as geologists, glaciologists and volcanologists.

Warning System

  • Scientists use data collected by a topographic synthetic aperture radar (TOPSAR) on deformed shorelines and volcanic ash in order to understand the relationship between basin warping and volcanism. The goal is to improve eruption forecasting, especially for the most dangerous volcanoes near populated areas, as well as determine the relationship between eruptions and earthquakes. Analyzing the changing topography of a volcano may some day warn scientists of potential threats and ultimately save lives and property during future eruptions.

Hunting Guide

  • The most useful tool for a hunter is the topographical (topo) map. The symbols on a topographical map are an accurate representation of the region---depicting not only surface features, including roads, trails and wooded areas, but also property lines. This information is invaluable when settling property line disputes. Topographical maps also help you predict where deer hunting areas are and see travel corridors before you venture into the woods. The key is learning what topographical features influence deer movement and knowing how to read the features on your map.

Ocean Topography

  • In addition to the climate of the sea, the topography of the sea bottom influences the distribution of marine organisms. Submarine ridges and barriers are an influential part of the sea-bottom topography. These features can impede or promote the development of plant and animal life. For example, if a submarine ridge separates two areas of water, this prevents the inhabitants of one body of water from mingling with the other, causing changes in the marine environment, such as the development of local fauna and floras.

Topographic Anatomy

  • The surface of the human body contains numerous, visible features that serve as guides to the body's internal structure. Topographic anatomy, also called gross anatomy, is the study of the visible anatomical structure of the body. Identifying these landmarks of the body enables you to make accurate assessments to physical problems.

Topographic Profile

  • If you slice the planet in two and take a side view of the surface area, the image created is a topographical profile. This helps in understanding topographic maps and is also useful in analyzing various geological changes, such as earthquakes, plate tectonic shifts or receding glaciers.


  • Photo Credit mapa y orientacion_1 image by drakis from Fotolia.com
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