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The concept of elevation in geographic information science is usually identified with vertical height measurements of a land surface—often, though not exclusively, of the earth's surface. These measurements collectively constitute the data to enable representations of those surfaces, which are usually stored as digital elevation models (DEMs) or triangulated irregular networks (TINs). A number of components combine to give meaning to the elevations in such models. These are (a) the existence of a vertical datum, in relation to which elevations can be measured; (b) processes by which measurements of elevation can be made; and (c) some conception of what the elevations are intended to represent, including notions of error.

Vertical Datum

Vertical measures of elevation are meaningful only as they are relative to some form of reference ...

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