What does topography mean in topographical barrier? I can't fully understand the word topography. I have read the pages appearing on googling topography.

Topography is the arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an area. Could topographical barrier be any landforms like a mountain range,a plateau or even a forest?


'Topography' implies variation in altitude. A flat rain forest, such as most of the Amazon basin has very little variation in altitude, and therefore doesn't constitute a topographic barrier. By contrast, the topography of the Andean mountain chain, further west, has a huge altitude variation, and hence constitutes one of the classic topographic barriers in respect of air flow, rainfall, salt balance, etc. So any mountain range or plateau may be a topographic barrier. Forests may or may not be topographic barriers, according to whether or not they have significant topographic variation. Hence the forests of Papua New Guinea constitute a t.b., but most lowland forests do not.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just to add to that: topography refers specifically to altitude variations in the surface of the crust. That is, it excludes the height of vegetation or man made objects. Bathymetry is the measure of altitude below sea level (just a bonus factoid). $\endgroup$ – Ton Jun 29 '16 at 17:15

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