What Is a Topographic Map Used For? Why Is It Important?

When mapping out the landscape on your property, you need a topographic mapping. So what is a topographic map used for? Click here to learn more.

When you’re building a new home or business, you probably think a lot about the architectural renderings. But, have you considered how the topography of your area is going to affect your project?

The topography of land can dictate where you place certain parts of your building, help you understand how the area will drain, and help you get a sense of how difficult it will be to build. But, that isn’t their only use.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What is a topographic map used for?” Read on.

What is a Topographic Map Used For?

Topographic maps are a tool that can two-dimensionally represent a three-dimensional landscape. They do this by using color-coded lines to map the earth’s surface.

If you are able to read a topographic map, you can find out where the lowest parts of the land are as well as the peaks. This kind of information is useful for a variety of reasons, like hiking, building projects, dictating the moves of military, and transportation.

Using Contour Lines

Contour lines on your map are used to display elevation. Every point that is at that height creates a circle around the elevation on the map. In standard map-making, each contour line is forty verticle feet apart and every fifth line has a written elevation.

Mapping Land Features

Since the contour lines on your map are all at the same elevation, the shape of the lines tells you what that landform looks like. If the lines are close together, then you know that the land is steep. If they are further apart, they show that the land is flat.

The Importance of Mapping Terrain

Topographic maps are important because they accurately represent the terrain of an area. That means that they many different industries use them to understand the area they are working in.

This could include selecting areas for road construction, choosing places for reservoirs and dams, and deciding where to put airports and other large facilities. City managers use this information to help them zone land and determine where to focus city services.

Topographic Maps in Hiking

When you are planning an extensive hike, it’s helpful to have a topographic map. Make sure that it’s an up-to-date one and that it’s waterproof. The last thing you want is to get lost in the wilderness with a blotted map.

You will also need to make sure that the map has seasonal snowfall information on it. The elevation of land can vary based on the amount of ice that has piled up over the year.

Topographic Maps in Land Development

Having a topographic map can help you decide where you should build on your property. They’re also used by governments to zone land for development.

If an area is very steep then it’s not often zoned for commercial or residential use. While lower areas are a great place to build large malls, schools, and more.

Topographic Maps for Project Planning

When you are planning to construct a building somewhere elevated and remote, it can be difficult to get at the materials you need. But with a topographic map, you will be able to plan out a route that makes sense.

For example, if you are building a log cabin on a mountain that doesn’t have any established roads, a topographic map can help you plan a route through the forest.

Topographic Maps for Transportation Planning

One of the biggest building challenges we face as a society is trying to offer transportation opportunities to everyone. With a topographic map, municipalities are able to plan routes that make sense with the geography of their area.

In addition, topographic maps can provide information for building highways. They are a great tool for selecting a preliminary route and getting an estimate for how much it would cost to cut into the land.

Topographic Maps in the Military

The military uses topographic maps to understand the areas they are fighting in and create pathways to defeat the enemy. They can move troops to avoid steep climbs and conserve their energy when traveling on foot.

With a high-quality topographic map, military personnel can also predict the moves of the enemy before they happen based on logical reasoning. They are also useful in selecting the placement of military encampments because they can locate flat land near natural resources like water in an unfamiliar area.

Topographic Maps for Geological Survey and Environmental Impact

One of the most common uses for a topographic map is as a geological survey. They can preserve the our nation’s forests from development by maintaining a record of the use of the land and the way deforestation changes it.

In addition, they can design firefighting systems that will work in case of an emergency fire outbreak. They can predict the behavior of a potential fire and help you design an plan on how you can reach the fire in that area and put it out.

A final use for these maps in a geological survey is exploring for mineral deposits. They can see where minerals have been dug up before and assist planners in coming up with an idea for where they want to mine next.

Understanding a Topographic Map

Now that you know the answer to, “What is a topographic map used for?”, you’ll be able to use and understand this important tool.

If you’re in the northern California-area and want to have your home or business and its surroundings mapped, contact us today.