How do you calculate gradient on a topographic map?

In Geography, Gradient is basically the steepness or gentleness of a region and is calculated by diving height by distance.

The Height is actually the actual value you are given on spot height features and is always given in metres (m) unless otherwise [always convert to metres is it is not in metres] eg. Spot height 274 or Spot height 307 (Whatever the case may be.

If you are provided with a trigonometrical station rather than a spot height, the value of the actual height is the value at the bottom of the triangle. The upper value is the spot height number.

The Distance is the actual ruler distance which you measure between the two given spot heights or trigonometric stations which you first measure as centimetres (cm) then you convert to metres (m).

Gradient = ##h/d##

Where: ##h## is the Height (m) ##d## is the distance (m)

The Calculation Procedure:

  1. Subtract the the smaller spot height value from the bigger spot height value – always e.g ##h## = 307m – 274m = 33m

  2. Measure the distance between the two points by ruler then convert from centimetres (cm) to metres (m).

  3. Insert the two values into the equation and do the working.

  4. The final answer is normally expressed in ratio form, e.g: 1:237.2m

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