1. An instrument for measuring the area of a plane figure by tracing its boundary line


  1. of, relating to, or made by means of a planimeter
  2. of a map having no indications of relief

“Planimetric.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 

“Planimeter.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., 

Photo credit: Stefan Kühn CC BY-SA

1 thought on “Planimeter”

  1. Expanding on this just a bit — a planimeter is an instrument, either analog or digital, that helps folks measure the area of complicated shapes (like a lake boundary, for example). In order to do this, you have to assume no relief. In other words, you have to image the shape to be flat, so you can’t take height, or depth, or altitude, into account. In the case of a mountain, or a lake, or a building, you will only measure area not volume.

    When we use planimetric in a discussion of maps, it means we’re imagining a map that does not represent (or ignores) elevation. So imagine a map of roads. You can get some sense of the distance between to cities, but you won’t know if the road goes up and down a bunch of hills.

    Above, I’ve paraphrased this post I found:

    Planimetric elements in geography are those features that are independent of elevation, such as roads, building footprints, and rivers and lakes. They are represented on two-dimensional maps as they are seen from the air, or in aerial photography. These features are often digitized from orthorectified aerial photography into data layers that can be used in analysis and cartographic outputs.

    A planimetric map is one that does not include relief data.

    I pulled that helpful clarification from Wikipedia here:

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