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.
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
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
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.