What is Topography? Significance and Advantages

The word “topography” is derived from two Greek words namely “topos” and “graphein”.  These words mean “place” and “to write” respectively.

Topography is the study of the shape and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface shapes and features themselves, or a description especially their depiction in maps.

It is a field of geoscience and planetary science and is concerned with local detail in general, including not only relief but also natural and artificial features, and even local history and culture. This meaning is less common in the United States, where topographic maps with elevation contours have made “topography” synonymous with relief.

Topography in a narrow sense involves the recording of relief or terrain, the three-dimensional quality of the surface, and the identification of specific landforms. This is also known as geomorphometry. In modern usage, this involves generation of elevation data in digital form. It is often considered to include the graphic representation of the landform on a map by a variety of techniques, including contour lines, hypsometric tints, and relief shading.

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Significance of Topography

In agriculture, It assists in determining methods of soil conservation and the flow of water. Scientists also use topography for environmental conservation. An understanding of the contour of the land helps scientists in setting up wind blocks and watersheds to avoid soil erosion. Besides, the weather patterns of a place are influenced by their terrain and physical features. Thus, It helps in forecasting weather patterns. The military also uses the information on water, hills, and elevation to plan their military strategies. Civil engineers and other construction experts require the information regarding land features and terrain for effective execution of their duties.

Advantages of Topography

  • Agriculture: It is often used in agriculture to determine how soil can be conserved and how water will flow over the land.
  • Environment: It can help to conserve the environment. By understanding the contour of the land, scientists can determine how water and wind may cause erosion. They can help to establish conservation areas such as watersheds and wind blocks.
  • Military: It is important to the military. Armies throughout history have used information on elevation, hills, water, and other landforms when planning their military strategy.