Topography (cartography)

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Maui (Hawaii) topographic map

The topography or topography is that sub-area of land surveying or cartography that deals with the detailed measurement , representation and description of the earth's surface and the natural and artificial objects ( situation ) that are firmly connected to it . The terrain and its forms ( relief ), the bodies of water , the land use or vegetation as well as the structures and traffic routes are of greatest importance .

The name comes from the Greek τόπος tópos ("place") and γράφειν gráfeïn ("draw, [describe]") and literally means "place description", analogously "terrain sketch" or " terrain plan ".

Topographical or terrain surveys are carried out by topographers and / or surveyors . The measurements are carried out terrestrially (with total station , GPS / GNSS or earlier with the measuring table , compass and incline meter ) or with the help of aerial photographs (less often satellite images). Terrestrially, the terrain is measured point by point, supported by structural lines . From aerial photographs ( aerophotogrammetry ) one can determine not only the detection of objects but also the course of the contour lines in the terrain.

The results are presented in topographic maps (maps) or a cartographic relief , or according to more recent methods as a digital landscape model . On the other hand, the pure elevation representation of the terrain is referred to as a digital elevation model , its addition to buildings, lines, etc. as a land information system (LIS).

In geography , the term topography is often used in the sense of representing orography , i.e. the mapping of the terrain with its elevation structures and water bodies .

See also


  • Rüdiger Mach, Peter Petschek: Visualization of digital terrain and landscape data . Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg 2006
  • Gustav Fochler-Hauke : Fischer Lexicon Geography , Fischer-Verlag, Frankfurt 1968
  • Franz Schmidt: Guide for young military-scientific training cavalry officers and aspirants (116 pages), published by Artaria, Vienna ~ 1860 (Chapter Concise terrain teaching and maps ), [1]