Could it be measured by taking the Laplacian over all tiles and then averaging it, for example?

(this question can be relevant for both surface topography and ocean bathymetry).

I think measuring it relative to Earth's geopotential would be fine.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this question could get a pretty good answer at Geographic Information Systems. I also think there is not really one answer. There are many ways and the most appropriate one depends on the problem you are trying to solve. What do you want to find out? $\endgroup$ – gerrit Apr 15 '14 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ Also, what are you measuring it relative to? As a geophysicist, I would choose a gravitational equi-potential, but others might choose a geoid (which one?) or something else. $\endgroup$ – winwaed Apr 15 '14 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ @gerrit - It's a geodesy question, which is equally well suited to either here or the GIS stackexchange, i.m.o. $\endgroup$ – Joe Kington Apr 15 '14 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "tiles"? Also, what do you want to know: the average variation, the peak-to-peak variation, the maximum? $\endgroup$ – Leo Uieda May 8 '14 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "variation"? Statistical variance or something else? $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Nov 27 '14 at 11:50

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