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For other uses, see Terrain (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Terrane.
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(July 2012) ()

Terrain or relief (also topographical relief) involves the vertical and horizontal dimensions of land surface. The term bathymetry is used to describe underwater relief, while hypsometry studies terrain relative to sea level. The Latin word terra (the root of terrain) means "earth."

Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain
A shaded and colored image (i.e. terrain is enhanced) of varied terrain from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. This shows elevation model of New Zealand's Alpine Fault running about 500 km (300 mi) long. The escarpment is flanked by a vast chain of hills between the fault and the mountains of New Zealand's Southern Alps. Northeast is towards the top.

In physical geography, terrain is the lay of the land. This is usually expressed in terms of the elevation, slope, and orientation of terrain features. Terrain affects surface water flow and distribution. Over a large area, it can affect weather and climate patterns.

Contents

The understanding of terrain is critical for many reasons:

  • Terrain is important in determining weather patterns. Two areas geographically close to each other may differ radically in precipitation levels or timing because of elevation differences or a "rain shadow" effect.
  • Precise knowledge of terrain is vital in aviation, especially for low-flying routes and maneuvers (see terrain collision avoidance) and airport altitudes. Terrain will also affect range and performance of radars and terrestrial radio navigation systems. Furthermore, a hilly or mountainous terrain can strongly impact the implementation of a new aerodrome and the orientation of its runways.

Relief (or local relief) refers specifically to the quantitative measurement of vertical elevation change in a landscape. It is the difference between maximum and minimum elevations within a given area, usually of limited extent. A relief can be described qualitatively, such as a "low relief" or "high relief" plain or upland. The relief of a landscape can change with the size of the area over which it is measured, making the definition of the scale over which it is measured very important. Because it is related to the slope of surfaces within the area of interest and to the gradient of any streams present, the relief of a landscape is a useful metric in the study of the Earth's surface. Relief energy, which may be defined inter alia as "the maximum height range in a regular grid", is essentially an indication of the ruggedness or relative height of the terrain.

Main article: Geomorphology

Geomorphology is in large part the study of the formation of terrain or topography. Terrain is formed by concurrent processes operating on the underlying geological structures over geological time:

Tectonic processes such as orogenies and uplifts cause land to be elevated, whereas erosional and weathering processes wear the land away by smoothing and reducing topographic features. The relationship of erosion and tectonics rarely (if ever) reaches equilibrium. These processes are also codependent, however the full range of their interactions is still a topic of debate.

Land surface parameters are quantitative measures of various morphometric properties of a surface. The most common examples are used to derive slope or aspect of a terrain or curvatures at each location. These measures can also be used to derive hydrological parameters that reflect flow/erosion processes. Climatic parameters are based on the modelling of solar radiation or air flow.

Land surface objects, or landforms, are definite physical objects (lines, points, areas) that differ from the surrounding objects. The most typical examples airlines of watersheds, stream patterns, ridges, break-lines, pools or borders of specific landforms.

  1. Baker, N.T., and Capel, P.D., 2011, "Environmental factors that influence the location of crop agriculture in the conterminous United States": U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5108, 72 p.
  2. Brush, L. M. (1961). "Drainage basins, channels, and flow characteristics of selected streams in central Pennsylvania" (pp. 1-44) (United States, U.S. Department of the Interior, GEOLOGICAL SURVEY). Washington D.C.: UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE. Retrieved October 29, 2017, from https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/0282f/report.pdf
  3. From Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms:
    • "compartmentation ... [involves] areas bounded on at least two sides by terrain features such as woods..."
    • "culture — A feature of the terrain that has been constructed by man. Included are such items as roads, buildings, and canals; boundary lines; and, in a broad sense, all names and legends on a map."
    • "key terrain — Any locality, or area, the seizure or retention of which affords a marked advantage to either combatant."
    • "terrain intelligence — Intelligence on the military significance of natural and manmade characteristics of an area."
  4. Summerfield, M.A., 1991, Global Geomorphology, Pearson, 537 p. ISBN 9780582301566
  5. African Landscapes: Interdisciplinary Approaches, edited by Michael Bollig, Olaf Bubenzer. Cologne: Springer, 2009, p. 48.
  6. Strak, V., Dominguez, S., Petit, C., Meyer, B., & Loget, N. (2011). Interaction between normal fault slip and erosion on relief evolution; insights from experimental modelling. Tectonophysics, 513(1-4), 1-19. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2011.10.005
  7. Gasparini, N., Bras, R., & Whipple, K. (2006). Numerical modeling of non–steady-state river profile evolution using a sediment-flux-dependent incision model. Special Paper - Geological Society of America, 398, 127-141. doi:10.1130/2006.2398(08)
  8. Roe, G., Stolar, D., & Willett, S. (2006). Response of a steady-state critical wedge orogen to changes in climate and tectonic forcing. Special Paper - Geological Society of America, 398, 227-239. doi:10.1130/2005.2398(13)
  9. Stolar, D., Willett, S., & Roe, G. (2006). Climatic and tectonic forcing of a critical orogen. Special Paper - Geological Society of America, 398, 241-250. doi:10.1130/2006.2398(14)
  10. Wobus, C., Whipple, K., Kirby, E., Snyder, N., Johnson, J., Spyropolou, K., Sheehan, D. (2006). Tectonics from topography: Procedures, promise, and pitfalls. Special Paper - Geological Society of America, 398, 55-74. doi:10.1130/2006.2398(04)
  11. Hoth, S., Adam, J., Kukowski, N., & Oncken, O. (2006). Influence of erosion on the kinematics of bivergent orogens: Results from scaled sandbox simulations. Special Paper - Geological Society of America, 398, 201-225. doi:10.1130/2006.2398(12)
  12. Bonnet, C., J. Malavieille, and J. Mosar (2007), Interactions between tectonics, erosion, and sedimentation during the recent evolution of the Alpine orogen: Analogue modeling insights, Tectonics, 26, TC6016, doi:10.1029/2006TC002048
  13. University of Cologne. "New insights into the relationship between erosion and tectonics in the Himalayas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160823083555.htm>
  14. King, G., Herman, F., & Guralnik, B. (2016). Northward migration of the eastern himalayan syntaxis revealed by OSL thermochronometry. Science, 353(6301), 800-804. doi:10.1126/science.aaf2637

The dictionary definition of terrain at Wiktionary

Terrain Article Talk Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Topographic relief For other uses see Terrain disambiguation Not to be confused with Terrane This article needs additional citations for verification Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed Find sources Terrain news newspapers books scholar JSTOR July 2012 Learn how and when to remove this template message Terrain or relief also topographical relief involves the vertical and horizontal dimensions of land surface The term bathymetry is used to describe underwater relief while hypsometry studies terrain relative to sea level The Latin word terra the root of terrain means earth Present day Earth altimetry and bathymetry Data from the National Geophysical Data Center s TerrainBase Digital Terrain Model Relief map of Sierra Nevada Spain A shaded and colored image i e terrain is enhanced of varied terrain from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission This shows elevation model of New Zealand s Alpine Fault running about 500 km 300 mi long The escarpment is flanked by a vast chain of hills between the fault and the mountains of New Zealand s Southern Alps Northeast is towards the top In physical geography terrain is the lay of the land This is usually expressed in terms of the elevation slope and orientation of terrain features Terrain affects surface water flow and distribution Over a large area it can affect weather and climate patterns Contents 1 Importance 2 Relief 3 Geomorphology 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External linksImportance EditThe understanding of terrain is critical for many reasons The terrain of a region largely determines its suitability for human settlement flatter alluvial plains tend to have better farming soils than steeper rockier uplands In terms of environmental quality agriculture hydrology and other interdisciplinary sciences 1 understanding the terrain of an area assists the understanding of watershed boundaries drainage characteristics 2 drainage systems groundwater systems water movement and impacts on water quality Complex arrays of relief data are used as input parameters for hydrology transport models such as the SWMM or DSSAM Models to allow prediction of river water quality Understanding terrain also supports soil conservation especially in agriculture Contour ploughing is an established practice enabling sustainable agriculture on sloping land it is the practice of ploughing along lines of equal elevation instead of up and down a slope Terrain is militarily critical because it determines the ability of armed forces to take and hold areas and move troops and material into and through areas An understanding of terrain is basic to both defensive and offensive strategy The military usage of terrain is very broad encompassing not only landform but land use and land cover surface transport infrastructure built structures and human geography and by extension under the term human terrain even psychological cultural or economic factors 3 Terrain is important in determining weather patterns Two areas geographically close to each other may differ radically in precipitation levels or timing because of elevation differences or a rain shadow effect Precise knowledge of terrain is vital in aviation especially for low flying routes and maneuvers see terrain collision avoidance and airport altitudes Terrain will also affect range and performance of radars and terrestrial radio navigation systems Furthermore a hilly or mountainous terrain can strongly impact the implementation of a new aerodrome and the orientation of its runways Relief EditRelief or local relief refers specifically to the quantitative measurement of vertical elevation change in a landscape It is the difference between maximum and minimum elevations within a given area usually of limited extent 4 A relief can be described qualitatively such as a low relief or high relief plain or upland The relief of a landscape can change with the size of the area over which it is measured making the definition of the scale over which it is measured very important Because it is related to the slope of surfaces within the area of interest and to the gradient of any streams present the relief of a landscape is a useful metric in the study of the Earth s surface Relief energy which may be defined inter alia as the maximum height range in a regular grid 5 is essentially an indication of the ruggedness or relative height of the terrain Geomorphology EditMain article Geomorphology Geomorphology is in large part the study of the formation of terrain or topography Terrain is formed by concurrent processes operating on the underlying geological structures over geological time Geological processes Migration of tectonic plates faulting and folding mountain formation volcanic eruptions etc Erosional processes glacial water wind chemical and gravitational mass movement such as landslides downhill creep flows slumps and rock falls Extraterrestrial meteorite impacts Tectonic processes such as orogenies and uplifts cause land to be elevated whereas erosional and weathering processes wear the land away by smoothing and reducing topographic features 6 The relationship of erosion and tectonics rarely if ever reaches equilibrium 7 8 9 These processes are also codependent however the full range of their interactions is still a topic of debate 10 11 12 13 14 Land surface parameters are quantitative measures of various morphometric properties of a surface The most common examples are used to derive slope or aspect of a terrain or curvatures at each location These measures can also be used to derive hydrological parameters that reflect flow erosion processes Climatic parameters are based on the modelling of solar radiation or air flow Land surface objects or landforms are definite physical objects lines points areas that differ from the surrounding objects The most typical examples airlines of watersheds stream patterns ridges break lines pools or borders of specific landforms See also EditApplications of global navigation satellite systems GNSS Cartographic relief depiction 2D relief map Digital terrain model Geographic information system GIS Geomorphometry Hypsometry Isostasy Physical terrain model Relief ratio Subterranea Terrain awareness and warning system Terrane TopographyReferences Edit Baker N T and Capel P D 2011 Environmental factors that influence the location of crop agriculture in the conterminous United States U S Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011 5108 72 p Brush L M 1961 Drainage basins channels and flow characteristics of selected streams in central Pennsylvania pp 1 44 United States U S Department of the Interior GEOLOGICAL SURVEY Washington D C UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE Retrieved October 29 2017 from https pubs usgs gov pp 0282f report pdf From Joint Publication 1 02 Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms compartmentation involves areas bounded on at least two sides by terrain features such as woods culture A feature of the terrain that has been constructed by man Included are such items as roads buildings and canals boundary lines and in a broad sense all names and legends on a map key terrain Any locality or area the seizure or retention of which affords a marked advantage to either combatant terrain intelligence Intelligence on the military significance of natural and manmade characteristics of an area Summerfield M A 1991 Global Geomorphology Pearson 537 p ISBN 9780582301566 African Landscapes Interdisciplinary Approaches edited by Michael Bollig Olaf Bubenzer Cologne Springer 2009 p 48 Strak V Dominguez S Petit C Meyer B amp Loget N 2011 Interaction between normal fault slip and erosion on relief evolution insights from experimental modelling Tectonophysics 513 1 4 1 19 doi 10 1016 j tecto 2011 10 005 Gasparini N Bras R amp Whipple K 2006 Numerical modeling of non steady state river profile evolution using a sediment flux dependent incision model Special Paper Geological Society of America 398 127 141 doi 10 1130 2006 2398 08 Roe G Stolar D amp Willett S 2006 Response of a steady state critical wedge orogen to changes in climate and tectonic forcing Special Paper Geological Society of America 398 227 239 doi 10 1130 2005 2398 13 Stolar D Willett S amp Roe G 2006 Climatic and tectonic forcing of a critical orogen Special Paper Geological Society of America 398 241 250 doi 10 1130 2006 2398 14 Wobus C Whipple K Kirby E Snyder N Johnson J Spyropolou K Sheehan D 2006 Tectonics from topography Procedures promise and pitfalls Special Paper Geological Society of America 398 55 74 doi 10 1130 2006 2398 04 Hoth S Adam J Kukowski N amp Oncken O 2006 Influence of erosion on the kinematics of bivergent orogens Results from scaled sandbox simulations Special Paper Geological Society of America 398 201 225 doi 10 1130 2006 2398 12 Bonnet C J Malavieille and J Mosar 2007 Interactions between tectonics erosion and sedimentation during the recent evolution of the Alpine orogen Analogue modeling insights Tectonics 26 TC6016 doi 10 1029 2006TC002048 University of Cologne New insights into the relationship between erosion and tectonics in the Himalayas ScienceDaily ScienceDaily 23 August 2016 lt www sciencedaily com releases 2016 08 160823083555 htm gt King G Herman F amp Guralnik B 2016 Northward migration of the eastern himalayan syntaxis revealed by OSL thermochronometry Science 353 6301 800 804 doi 10 1126 science aaf2637Further reading EditBoots on the ground On military terrain from the perspective of the combat soldier By Professor Derek GregoryExternal links EditGoogle Maps Bing Maps The dictionary definition of terrain at Wiktionary Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Terrain amp oldid 1089312896, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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