How to Find Elevation

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How to Find Elevation

The world, like life, has its share of highs and lows that can make everything about it exciting.  Finding the elevation of your area is very useful for everything from construction projects and even surviving the harshest conditions.  Here are some tips to help you find the elevation of your area.

Importance of Finding Elevation

Elevation is the height of an area with respect to a reference point.  For most areas, the reference point is sea level, although it may change for different areas or for different purposes.   Elevation is particularly useful for:

  • Building and construction. Elevation is very useful for determining the structural integrity of a possible building on a given height above sea level, as well as determining logistics for construction.
  • Mapping and exploration. Topography, or the study of the Earth’s surface, involves a lot of surveying and measurements to determine differences in elevation.
  • Survival. In extreme cases like mountain-climbing disasters, knowing your elevation can be vital to your survival, as well as aid rescue workers with the best possible data and location.


There are two common ways to find elevation:

  • Triangulation is as old as the triangle itself.  Ancient civilizations, particularly the Greeks, have used the ratio and dimensions of the triangle (particularly the right triangle) to determine the height of structures and natural landmarks like mountains.  Trigonometry, or the study of triangles, is often used in this technique.  Triangulation is especially useful for determining the elevation of mountain ranges, cliffs, and hills without having to actually go to climb and measure it.
  • Sensing and imaging. Many complex tools and sophisticated pieces of equipment have been developed to determine elevation.  The altimeter, for example, senses the height of an area with sensitive measuring tools built into the device.


The most common tools used to determine the elevation of an area include theodolites, clinometers, and levels, which are often used by engineers and surveyors.  Surveying instruments are particularly useful for larger landmarks like mountains and gullies, although altitude can still be measured by explorers by using handheld altimeters.

Measuring elevation is an important part of construction, building, mapmaking, and navigation.  With these steps, you can find the correct height of any feature or landmark quickly and accurately.



  1. Qurtan said,

    on September 21st, 2011 at 2:58 am

    I found a website where you can find the elevation by clicking on a map.