Topography (from Greek τόπος topos, "place", and γράφω graphō, "write") is a field of planetary science comprising the study of surface shape and features of the Earth and other observable astronomical objects including planets, moons, and asteroids. It is also the description of such surface shapes and features (especially their depiction in maps). The topography of an area can also mean the surface shape and features themselves.
In a broader sense, topography is concerned with local detail in general, including not only relief but also vegetative and artificial features, and even local history and culture. This meaning is less common in America, where topographic maps with elevation contours have made "topography" synonymous with relief. The older sense of topography as the study of place still has currency in Europe.
Topography specifically 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 electronic 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.
Famous quotes containing the word topography:
“That the mere matter of a poem, for instanceits subject, its given incidents or situation; that the mere matter of a picturethe actual circumstances of an event, the actual topography of a landscapeshould be nothing without the form, the spirit of the handling, that this form, this mode of handling, should become an end in itself, should penetrate every part of the matter;Mthis is what all art constantly strives after, and achieves in different degrees.”
—Walter Pater (18391894)