What is Topography? (page 2)
Can you see where your mountain was steep and where it was flat? How can you do this?
Place an 8 ½ x 11 piece of card stock on the ground. Draw a pathway lengthwise on the piece of paper. Now, lift one end of the paper half an inch off the ground. That paper takes 11 whole inches to rise half an inch! It is pretty flat. If you were walking up that pathway you drew, you might be a little out of breath, but it would not be too difficult.
Now, place the same piece of paper on end and tilt it very slightly. This piece of paper rises almost vertically over a very short distance. Look at your pathway now. It goes almost straight up! You would need mountain-climbing equipment to climb up this path. Your paper rises 11 inches in elevation, but covers only half an inch of horizontal distance—the slope is almost vertical.
When you created your topographic map, the lines on your paper reflect what your clay mountain looked like. If the rise were sudden and steep, the lines would be close together. If the rise were slow, the lines would be farther apart. This way, we can use topographic maps to tell whether a hike might involve a tough climb or an easy walk.
Take a look at a real topographic map and see if you can find places where the slope is steep and where it is flat!
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