Mountain Population - 1995 Version

(here's the 2000 Version)

In response to a query that appeared on the Mountain Forum list, asking what percent of the earth's surface and human population exist above 4000 feet (1220 meters) elevation, I used digital elevation data from GTOPO30 (sub- averaged to 5 x 5 minute cell size) and population data from GPW2 to come up with the following:

Global surface area: 510 million square kilometers
Land surface area: 150 million square kilometers
Elev > 4000 ft surface area: 30 million square kilometers
Land area, percent of globe: 30%
Elev > 4000 ft, percent of globe: 6%
Elev > 4000 ft, percent of land: 20%
Global 1995 population: 5700 million
Population > 4000 ft: 570 million
Population > 4000 ft, pct global: 10%

There has been a lot of interesting work done with these datasets; see references at the CIESIN site, especially the paper by Small & Cohen which shows distributions of population by various physiographic parameters, including elevation.

Here's an image showing the earth's topography in green and population (for cells > 4000 feet only) in red:

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Last updated 09-Jul-2008