Mapping elevation at the LDEO web site

as a class projects in GEO201-Physical Geography II



This page is linked from an overview of the LDEO web site visualization tool for mapping the elevation of the world.  That overview was written by Dr. James R. Carter, Professor, Geography-Geology Department, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, USA

In 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 the students in Physical Geography II were asked to visit the LDEO site and create their own maps of elevation.  They were then asked to capture their maps and incorporate them into a web page. Creating their own web pages was one of the projects in the class.

Our text is Robert W. Christopherson, 2003, Geosystems, 5th ed,. Prentice Hall.  Below is figure 12-2 from the text showing Earth’s Hypsometry.  This diagram shows the proportion of the Earth’s surface at different elevations, ranging from the greatest ocean depth of 11,030 meters to the highest mountain at 8,848 meters.  It is very difficult to read the text on the graphic--sorry.  The figure had to be reduced to fit on the web page.

This hypsometric diagram shows that very little area extends above 6,000 meters above sea level or below about 7,000 meters below sea level.  On the other hand, a considerable portion of the Earth surface extends from sea level to about a 1,000 meters in elevation.  An even greater portion of Earth land surface extends from about 3,000 to 7,000 meters below sea level. 

As one explores the elevations of the Earth’s surface with the LDEO mapping tool, consideration should be given to this diagram to help select breaks between the many levels on the map.  Here is a map created with the LDEO program.

While we examine the proportions of the Earth at different elevations in the hypsometric diagram, the map projection used for the LDEO maps is not equal area.  This is the equirectangular projection or Plate Carree projection.  As one moves away from the equator areas are exaggerated on this projection.  For example, Antarctica is greatly exaggerated relative to areas near the equator.  Remember this distortion of area as you view the many maps made by the students, or as you make your own maps.

Here are the links to the student maps.  I should note that at the beginning of these classes none of the students had created a web page.  The emphasis of this project was on the maps and not on the image of the web page. 

First we had the maps made by the students in 2001.  Each of these pages is stored on the student's personal web page on campus.  As students graduate their personal space is closed down.  So, the examples from that class have been lost because the students have gone on to other worlds.

Some of the pages are much better than others but there is merit in looking at what each student created.  Check out each page.  

In 2002 a new group of students created their images of hypsometry.  Of course these students had the advantage of being able to see what the previous class did, so we should expect better from them.  In this group the only page still available is that of:

In 2003 yet another group of students created their images of hypsometry.  In this group we still have maps made by:

In 2004 yet another group of students created their images of hypsometry.  In this group we can still see the maps of:

LDEO is the acronym for the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observation of Columbia University in New York City.  There are many dimensions to their web site.  The master page for the LDEO organization is  Under Research click on the Climate Group which takes you to the LDEO Climate Modeling Group.  Again, there is good stuff here.  Click on Projects and go to the Open House.  That takes you to the Climate Group Exhibit Hall.  From there click on Color the World.  That takes you to  and the mapping program reviewed here.

Dr. M. Benno Blumenthal of the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory created the mapping program and maintains the site.  He gave us permission to show these maps on our class pages.

Return to the overview of the LDEO maps as visualization tools.