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Difference Between Altitude and Elevation

Altitude vs Elevation

Altitude and elevation are two concepts widely used in day to day lives. These two terms are usually interchangeable but are preferred in different places. Altitude is the height of an object above the mean sea level while elevation is the height of a place above mean sea level. The concepts of altitude and elevation are very important in understanding fields such as aviation, geography, geology, oceanography, navigation and even military applications. In this article, we are going to discuss what altitude and elevation are, their application, in which fields the terms altitude and elevation are used, the similarities between altitude and elevation, the definitions of altitude and elevation, and finally the difference between altitude and elevation.


Elevation is a common word that can be seen in many places. City and town detail boards, railway stations, airports, railway lines, bus stands are some of the places that elevation is displayed. Elevation is defined as the height measured from a fixed reference point. This reference point is the mean sea level according to the mathematical model of the earth as an equally distributed mass.

Elevation is also known as the geometric height. Elevation is used to refer points placed on the surface of the earth. Heights of places such as railway stations, cities, and towns are referred as the elevation of those places. Elevation is a very important property discussed in geography.

The term “elevation” is mostly used in fields such as geography, transportation, agriculture and other earth related fields. Elevation is sometimes measured with respect to the center of the earth. In such cases, the elevation comparisons used with mean sea level as the reference point becomes confusing.


Altitude is not a common, day to day word. The term “altitude” can be seen in airplanes, helicopters, space shuttles, rockets and other atmospheric vehicles. The term altitude has the same definition as the elevation. The definition of altitude is the height measured from a fixed reference point. Most of the time, this reference point is the mean sea level.

Altitude is a term used to identify heights of objects such as airplanes, space shuttles, rockets, atmospheric balloons and heights of places such as atmospheric layers and clouds. Altitude is used to measure the height of an object which is above the earth’s surface. The term “altitude” is mostly used in fields such as space exploration, aviation, military and physics.

Altitude vs Elevation

  • Altitude is used to indicate the height of an object which is above the surface of the earth whereas elevation is used to indicate the height of an object or a place which is on the earth.
  • Altitude is used in fields such as aviation, military and space exploration whereas elevation is mostly used in fields such as geography, geology and agriculture.


Related posts:

  1. Difference Between Altitude and Perpendicular Bisector
  2. Difference Between Mountain and Hill
  3. Difference Between Mountain and Plateau
  4. Difference Between Gravity on Earth and Moon
  5. Difference Between Height and Depth

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