2003, Darra, A., Kavouras, M., and Tzelepis, N., "A Rational Characterization and Visualization of Topographic Relief into Mountainous, Semi-Mountainous and Plane Terrain" Print


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Darra, A., Kavouras, M., and Tzelepis, N., "A Rational Characterization and Visualization of Topographic Relief into Mountainous, Semi-Mountainous and Plane Terrain", Proceedings of the 21st International Cartographic Conference, Durban , South Africa , 10-16 August, 2003.




The objective of the present paper is a rational characterization and visualisation of designated areas (e.g., Municipalities) according to their relief characteristics. Such a global characterisation into Mountainous, Semimountainous or Plane Terrain (M/S/P) is often employed by National Statistical Services but depends on several complex morphological criteria. In our case, we did not just conduct an experiment but dealt with the entire Greek territory on behalf of the Hellenic Statistics.


In the past, previous characterizations were based on a manual/visual procedure of examining each municipality area against a 1:100,000 scale contour map. Excluding other "biases", the complex nature of criteria employed then, the subjectivity of each operator and the manual procedure used, lead to non-homogeneous and difficult to document results. The administrative reorganisation of Greece into fewer Municipalities, by a Program known as "Ioannis Kapodistrias" (1991), created the necessity for a new and, this time, more objective and accurate characterisation, exploiting the analytical capabilities available nowadays.


The developed method, contrary to previous limitations, proceeded with a single, explicit, quantified, objective and controllable approach. After analysis of morphological characteristics of the entire country, it was decided to use an appropriate Digital Elevation Model. The main relief parameters affecting the resulting characterization were the Elevation and the Slope.


Instead of a single final single characterization (M/S/P) for each Municipality, the methodology calculates and leads in important and very useful individual internal information for each area. It assigns values into 48 categories (combinations) of slope/elevation, describes ranges of elevations and slope, average elevation and slope, and finally calculates globally individual percentages in three categories M/S/P for each Municipality. Then, using two techniques (a) a weighed characterization relief index, and (b) a ternary diagram, it proceeds with a global characterization M/S/P for each Municipality. The methodology was developed and optimised after being tested in representative regions of Country. Also, comparison with previous characterisations revealed sometimes systematic, other times profound gross "errors". The importance of the characterisation is large considering that funding allocation by the central government is based on such characterisation.


Two visualisation techniques are employed to represent the results of the characterisation. The first is a series of traditional relief-type maps which do not however portray elevation but the weighed characterisation relief index. The second technique is the ternary diagram itself, which is a spatialization method relocating area-points according to their relief characterisation. This second product proves to be very useful in detecting similarities and dissimilarities among the different areas in question.


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