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Environmental Modelling

Map Scale

Map scale is the relationship of the distances separating two points on a map to the distance separating the same two

points on the surface of the Earth, measured in the same units. Both the numerator and the denominator must be in the

same units. Scale may be expressed as a fractional scale (ratio or representative fraction), verbally, or graphically.

The denominator of a fractional scale can be difficult to visualize. A verbal scale can concert these to more

understandable units. For example, the denominator of the fractional scale 1:24,000 can be converted by dividing by 12

to get to inches, and by 63,360 to get to miles. So 24,000 inches equals 2,000 feet or .378 of a mile.

We can also set up an equation based on the equivalency statement, and then cross-multiply. For example:

1 foot = 12 inches (start with the equivalency statement)

——— ————-

X 24,000 inches (fill in the other values, keeping the same units on the same side of the equation)

12X = 24,000 (cross-multiply)

X = 2,000 feet (divide by 12 to isolate X)

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12. Convert the fractional scales to verbal scales using the following conversion factors:

1 foot = 12 inches

1 mile = 5,280 feet = 63,360 inches

Representative fraction: 1:10,000

Verbal scale: One inch on the map represents 10,000 inches or ___________ feet, or ___________ miles on the

ground.

Representative fraction: 1:24,000

Verbal scale: One inch on the map represents 24,000 inches or ___________ feet, or ___________ miles on the

ground.

Representative fraction: 1:3,168,000

Verbal scale: One inch on the map represents 3,168,000 inches or __________ feet, or ____________ miles on

the ground.

13. Compare the fractional scale 1:10,000 to 1:3,168,000. Which would show MORE AREA?

14. Compare the fractional scale 1:10,000 to 1:3,168,000. Which would show MORE DETAIL?