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Altitude

  • By: Peter H. Dana
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Altitude is the distance between a position and a vertical reference surface. Distance might be measured in angular or length units. The position might be the point location of an object or a specified point along a vehicle track or satellite orbit. The surface might be one of many vertical datums, such as the center of the Earth, the surface of the ocean, the topographic surface of the Earth, the top of the built environment, or a constant barometric pressure surface.

The precise distance between a surface and a position depends on the definition of the line between them. For example, the line might be perpendicular to a plane tangent to the reference surface, or it might extend from the position toward the center of ...

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