How To Use A Topographic Map
From approximately 1947 to 1992 more than 55 000 7 5 minute maps were made to cover the 48 conterminous states.
How to use a topographic map. The scale on any topographic map will tell you how many miles or fractions of a mile one inch represents. Most topographic maps will display roads and an intersection is a great way to pinpoint your location. Topographic maps produced by nrcan conform to the national topographic system nts of canada. This section provides information to facilitate the use of topographic maps and also how to obtain paper and digital maps.
Topographic maps go further giving you the power to visualize three dimensional terrain from a flat piece of paper. The area covered by a given mapsheet is determined by its location in canada. 1 50 000 and 1 250 000. Topographic maps are a little different from your average map.
A topographic map can be easy to read once you know the details. Then look on the map for a series of circular contour lines to notate the hill or peak. Once you get the hang of reading them they help you visualize three dimensional terrain from a flat piece of paper. Similar maps at varying scales were produced during the same time period for alaska hawaii and us territories.
The smaller the scale the more detail the map has. The distinctive characteristic of a topographic map is the use of elevation contour lines to show the shape of the earth s surface. A similar strategy is to find a man made the feature on the map like a water tower and see if you can see it in the real world. Elevation contours are imaginary lines connecting points having the same elevation on the surface of the land above or below a reference surface which is usually mean sea level.
Locate a tall peak or hill in your area and refer to the map. Each map in this system has a unique number which is a combination of numbers and letters. Use the scale bar found at the bottom of every nrcan topographic map to determine distances between points or along lines on the map sheet. Use the secondary division on the left of the scale bar for measuring fractions of a kilometre.
The best known usgs maps are the 1 24 000 scale topographic maps also known as 7 5 minute quadrangles. The feature that makes this possible is contour lines. Check the street signs then find where those roads meet on the map. Contour lines indicate the steepness of terrain.
If you get lost and need to find your way using a topographic map try finding a landmark like a tall peak or hill close to you. The 7 5 minute series was declared complete in 1992 and at that time was the only uniform map series that covered the united states in considerable detail.
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