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ZingPath: Earth's Topography and Mapping

Using Topographic Maps

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Earth's Topography and Mapping

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Lesson Focus

Using Topographic Maps

Earth & Space Science

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You get to learn about the use of globes, maps, and satellite images. Use your skills to locate lost hikers using topographical maps and track down an international jewel thief using latitudes and longitudes.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Define topographic maps.
  • Interpret topographic maps to identify land and erosional features.

Everything You'll Have Covered

What is a topographic map?

~ A topographic map is a type of map that shows both natural land features (like mountains and hills) and man-made features (like roads and buildings) from the top view, detailing their heights.

What is the baseline height of all topographic maps?

~ The baseline height of all topographic maps is sea level, which is labeled as zero meters.

How are the varying heights of a natural land feature represented on a topographic map?

~ The varying heights of a natural land feature are represented on a topographic map with contour lines, which serve to connect and detail points of equal heights.

What does the frequency of contour lines indicate about the change in height of a natural land feature?

~ The frequency of contour lines is an indication of how steeply inclined, or how level, a natural land feature is. In other words, the closer together the contour lines, the steeper the land feature is.

What colors are used to represent towns, woods, and bodies of water on most topographic maps?

~ On most topographic maps, towns are shown in pink, woods are shown in green, and bodies of water are shown in blue.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 2 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be familiar with the following terms: contour interval, contour lines, and erosion features.
Course Earth & Space Science
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary contour interval, contour lines, erosion features