Meaning of Altitude

Meaning of Altitude

From the Latin name, altitude is the vertical distance that exists between a point on the earth and sea level. The term is also used synonymously with height in reference to a distance from the ground, the region of air at a certain elevation above the surface, or the dimension of a body perpendicular to its base.

For example: “The refuge is at an altitude of 2,500 meters, so we still have to climb enough to reach it”, “The satellite orbits at an altitude of 300 kilometers”, “The commander just reported that we flew to a higher than normal altitude to avoid a storm front ”.

To calculate the altitude, the sea ​​level or mean sea level is usually taken as a reference. This point, however, is not constant due to the action of the tides and the differences that exist according to the region. That is why each country usually determines a sea level according to a specific place and a certain time of year. The calculation of the altitude in a country, therefore, will be made based on said predetermined level.

According to DigoPaul, altitude is usually measured in meters. That is why we talk about meters above sea level (which may be abbreviated as masl). Thus it can be said that the peak of a mountain is at 1,850 meters above sea level or that the hotel is 400 meters above sea level.

While in European countries and most Latin American countries, altitude is measured in meters, in the United States it is usually measured in feet.

The measuring instrument used to measure altitude is known as an altimeter; Basically, it allows determining the distance between your location point and a reference point, and it is frequently used to know the height above sea level. It is not a necessarily independent tool; Some bicycle speedometers, for example, have an integrated altimeter.

The altimeter is widely used in aeronautics, an area in which it has become one of the most significant flight instruments of an airplane, providing more safety to the crew. On the other hand, it is also used in any activity, sports or not, in which there are considerable unevennesses, such as skiing, mountaineering, cycling, trekking, skydiving, trail running and climbing, among others, to find out which unevenness is overcome. in every moment.

Thermal floors

Thermal, climatic, ecological or biotic floors refer to a concept related to the relative altitude of a relief and its influence on the climatic types of a given area, since they are the most important climate modifying factors, especially in the area. intertropical (the strip located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn).

In the intertropical zone, for every 1.8 m of height the temperature decreases an average of 1 ° C, which may seem insignificant but represents a very important variation; This phenomenon is known by the name of thermal gradient and is what gives rise to the concept of thermal floors.

Some researchers speak of altitudinal geography to refer to thermal floors in inter-tropical countries and, according to the author, four or five floors can be distinguished, each with characteristics such as average temperature, insolation and rainfall that are so different from those of the rest to define a climate for each altitude.

It is very important to understand the great influence that altitude can have on the climate in the intertropical zone, and the precision provided by the concept of thermal floors when defining its mountain climates.