|A Look At Elevation Statistics From the Barometric Altimeter
There are two sets of data below. One was done on Wednesday evening
June 7, 2006 and the second one on Thursday evening June 8, 2006.
The first one was done on foot with many stops to mark waypoints.
The second one was done on a bike with only a few short stops (no
waypoints). The data was collected with a Garmin GPSmap 76S.
The route follows a creek downhill; crosses and returns back up the other side. The route had a dip under a road that would add about another 15 feet to the loop otherwise the route was fairly consistently down to one end and up coming back. So based on the map, the route should have a gain and loss of approximately 115 feet (6080 - 5980 + 15).
The first lines come from Nat'l. Geographic's TOPO! regional program, version 2.7.7. This program doesn't use the track elevations; the gain/loss and max/min values come from the USGS DEM data for 7.5 minute (1:24000) maps. The first gain/loss set (DEM Data) is from the basic profile. The second set is from the magnified profile. The observed values are from the 7.5 minute map with 20 foot contours as viewed in TOPO!.
I think the Nat'l. Geographic's TOPO! program tends to slightly under calculate the gain/loss for the basic profile while the magnified profile tends to be too high (based on more observations than noted here).
GPS Utility (version 1.5) apparently just totals up all the elevation differences between track points with no filtering.
The values obtained by biking are close to the low end of accuracy limits and I wonder if they would be consistently low with the same test setup. It is much closer to reality than the values obtained while walking apparently because the route was traveled fast enough to keep the receiver from adding much "noise" into the gain/loss. It seems like the receiver could check the difference between the high and low and make sure the gain or loss is at least as much as the difference as appropriate.
My casual observations on many hikes ranging from about 8 to 18 miles long with 1,000 ft. to 4,000 ft. of elevation gain has been that the recorded gain tends to be approximately 10% to 20% high. Hikes that are fairly flat tend to have elevation gains that are 2, 3, 4 or more times the actual elevation gain. If you stand still the gain and loss will start climbing as "noise" is accumulated so the error steadily climbs. Or in other words, keep moving as fast as you can to keep the error down. If you go too fast the accumulated gain/loss may be less than the actual value.
Get to know how your altimeter is working because reality may not be very close to what your receiver is telling you.
|Return to the Test Index Page
|Return to the Index (Home) Page
|Copyright © 2006 Dan Anderson. All rights reserved.
GARMIN is a registered trademark, and MapSource is a trademark of GARMIN Corporation or GARMIN Ltd.
TOPO! is a registered trademark of National Geographic Holdings.