Encyclopedic Entry

It's all downhill from here.

Photograph by Doug Pierson, MyShot

Highs and Lows
The Earth's highest elevation point is at the summit of Mt. Everest in Nepal. It measures 8,848 meters (29,029 feet). The Earth's lowest land elevation point is at the Dead Sea, located at the border of Israel and Jordan. Its shores have an elevation of 420 meters (1,385 feet) below sea level.

Elevation is distance above sea level.

Elevations are usually measured in meters or feet. They can be shown on maps by contour lines, which connect points with the same elevation; by bands of color; or by numbers giving the exact elevations of particular points on the Earths surface. Maps that show elevations are called topographic maps.

Elevation influences climate, as well as where and how people live. Most of the worlds people live on coastal plains at elevations of 150 meters (500 feet) or less. Some cultures have adapted to higher elevations. In Tibet, a region in central Asia, people live at elevations as great as 5,334 meters (17,500 feet). Above this elevation, the climate becomes too cold for growing crops, and there is also not enough oxygen in the air to sustain human life.

Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

adapt

Verb

to adjust to new surroundings or a new situation.

climate

Noun

all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

Encyclopedic Entry: climate

coastal plain

Noun

low, flat land lying next to the ocean.

Encyclopedic Entry: coastal plain

contour line

Noun

line joining points of equal elevation.

crop

Noun

agricultural produce.

Encyclopedic Entry: crop

elevation

Noun

height above or below sea level.

Encyclopedic Entry: elevation

oxygen

Noun

chemical element with the symbol O, whose gas form is 21% of the Earth's atmosphere.

sea level

Noun

base level for measuring elevations. Sea level is determined by measurements taken over a 19-year cycle.

Encyclopedic Entry: sea level

sustain

Verb

to support.

topographic map

Noun

map showing natural and human-made features of the land, and marked by contour lines showing elevation.

Credits

Media Credits

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Writer

Kim Rutledge
Melissa McDaniel
Diane Boudreau
Tara Ramroop
Santani Teng
Erin Sprout
Hilary Costa
Hilary Hall
Jeff Hunt

Illustrator

Tim Gunther
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society

Editor

Kara West
Jeannie Evers

Educator Reviewer

Nancy Wynne

Producer

Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

Sources

Dunn, Margery G. (Editor). (1989, 1993). "Exploring Your World: The Adventure of Geography." Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.

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