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Office Hours. Mon: 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM & 1:45 PM to 3:00 PM Wed: 11:30 A M to 12:30 PM Thr : 9:15 AM to 12:30 PM Fri: 10:00 AM to 12:00 P M. Lesson 9. Topographic Profiles Hess, McKnight’s Physical Geography , 10 ed. A3-A4. What is a “topographic profile?”.

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office hours

Office Hours

Mon: 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM & 1:45 PM to 3:00 PM

Wed: 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Thr: 9:15 AM to 12:30 PM

Fri: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

lesson 9

Lesson 9

Topographic Profiles

Hess, McKnight’s Physical Geography, 10 ed.


what is a topographic profile
What is a “topographic profile?”
  • Last week we discussed USGS topographic maps
    • 3D landscape on a 2D map
    • Use contour lines to connect equal elevation intervals
    • This is known as a “plain-view” map
  • A topographic profile is literally a “side view” along a line drawn over the topographic map
    • They show changes in elevation along a line
constructing a topographic profile
Constructing a Topographic Profile
  • On the topographic map, determine what profile you would like to measure
    • For this exercise & the homework, this is given as the line segment AB
  • If a computer program is not available, lay a piece of paper down along line AB
  • Start from point A: wherever a contour line intersects the edge of the paper, place a short tick mark AND write down the elevation
  • Continue along the line to point B
    • Along the way, mark wherever a mountain peak, valley, or stream is located
    • Also mark any other important features (roads, buildings, etc)
constructing a topographic profile cont
Constructing a Topographic Profile, cont.
  • Next, transfer your paper with the tick marks, elevation, and features to a chart (will be provided)
  • Align your writing along the bottom of the chart
  • Start at point A: transfer your measurements along the X and Y-axis’ moving toward point B.
  • Connect the dots
  • Finish by adding the locations of mountain peaks, streams, roads ,etc.
snowville topo


  • Using the Snowville topographic map from last week, construct a profile along line AB.
    • The elevation at point A is 2093
    • The elevation at point B is 2085
    • Remember to draw both contour lines as “tick marks” AND important features
snowville topo1
  • Let’s see how our hand-drawn profile compares to a computer-generated image.
vertical exaggeration
Vertical Exaggeration
  • In our previous example, the y-axis intervals were the same as the elevation contours on the topographic map
  • In our case, the vertical scale we used matched the horizontal scale
  • This brings us to vertical exaggeration
vertical exaggeration cont
Vertical Exaggeration, cont.
  • Vertical exaggeration is created to emphasizes differences in elevation and to show relief
    • e.g., when there is a large amount of V. E., small hills appear to be tall mountain peaks on the graph
vertical exaggeration cont1
Vertical Exaggeration, cont.
  • To determine the amount of V. E., simply divide the horizontal distance one inch represents by the vertical distance one inch represents
vertical exaggeration con t1
Vertical Exaggeration, con.t
  • For the Snowville topographic profile:
    • The vertical distance on the graph was
      • 1” = ~100’
    • The horizontal distance on the graph (not shown) was
      • 1” = ~100’
    • Divide the horizontal (scale) distance by the vertical distance:
      • = 1.0
      • Thus the V. E. is 1.0 X (or the same as the horizontal distance)