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Aspect: Identify the Aspect of Different Slopes Using GIS

A geographic information system (GIS) doesn’t need an introduction. We have seen technology being used in a wide range of fields, including architecture, agriculture, and so on. One such common yet most prominent use of the technology is in identifying the routes and navigation in Antarctica. It is because of the GIS that researchers have been able to analyze digital elevation data so effortlessly. Something that seemed impossible a few years ago has now become mainstream. You can use GIS for collecting and analyzing slope and aspect data sets.

The question arises “what is the aspect” and where is it used? First things first, the extent to which the sunlight hits a hillside can be measured from its aspect. Hillsides on the north end get very little to no sunlight at all, while the areas facing the south receive a considerable amount of sunlight every day. The slopes and hillsides located on the east and west portion get a small amount of sunlight. Since aspect plays an important role in determining the amount of sunlight striking the particular surface, it is considered one of the most crucial metrics in the siting of buildings and identifying the perfect location for construction and other purposes.

The Role of Aspect in Analyzing Temperature and Climate

If we see it from the GIS perspective, the aspect is taken from the raster surface. Put it in simple terms, the aspect refers to the direction of the slope. Another important thing to note is that this aspect has a significant impact on the climate of the particular region. The larger the amount of sunlight the given area receives, the hotter the climate is in the area. This explains how the south-facing slopes remain the hottest for the most part of the year.

For example, the west-facing hillside or slope receives the largest amount of sunlight at noon, which makes the region the hottest. East and north-facing slopes might not have as warm temperatures as the west-facing slopes. That’s how the aspect can affect the temperature and climate of the area in question.

GIS and Aspect in Terrain Analysis

In addition to analyzing the temperatures of the area, Aspect is used in many fields. It helps in conducting terrain analysis. When a researcher is conducting terrain analysis, they need aspect and slope for site planning, hydrology, and infrastructure planning. In fact, the researchers are able to find the most prominent and suitable area for dominant vegetation with the help of aspect study. As mentioned above, the aspect is measured using GIS.

The spatial mapping has helped scientists in identifying the aspect of any given area, including the west, east, north, and south-facing slopes. The researchers use the outcome of this finding to draw a conclusion regarding which slope is likely to erode over time and how quickly will the slopes face deterioration. It also gives you insights into what factors can lead to erosion and how these can be managed for healthier slopes.