I've heard it is possible to use NASA elevation model to determine approximate elevation at (lat;lng) point. This might be really useful for my upcoming project since Google Elevation API has weird limitations...and I don't really like USGS Elevation Query Web Service because of its speed. I'd want to have elevation query tool/framework on local computer, which works with local file.

I did my homework, and found GeoTiff files might be downloaded with no problem. But I've failed to find any useful documentation or framework.

Can somebody share a link to the specs, or example or tutorial on how to work with GeoTiff files? Is there any frameworks to get this done (.NET,Java,C++,C - doesn't really matter)?

According to what I see in the GeoTiff files and its header files, I assume each tiff represents small area and pixel color (16 bit value) indicates elevation there in meters. Is that correct?

  • I didn't know there's a GIS section. How do I move my question there?
    – Alex D
    Dec 30, 2011 at 15:38
  • Interesting question, but voting to close and move to GIS.
    – Perception
    Dec 30, 2011 at 15:59
  • @AlexD Since it's not one of the most common alternate topics, I think a moderator has to do it. I have flagged the question to get the moderators' assessment.
    – erickson
    Dec 30, 2011 at 16:18
  • @erickson Thanks! meanwhile, I've found framework in C#, which pretends it can handle GeoTiffs.
    – Alex D
    Dec 30, 2011 at 18:48
  • I am not sure which Tiff's you're talking about and what resolution you need but ASTER GDEM seems to be most detailed DEM for FREE :) Check gis.stackexchange.com/questions/17989/…. ASTER is 30m. SRTM is 90m.
    – Tomek
    Jan 2, 2012 at 20:41

2 Answers 2


If you're referring to NASA's SRTM dataset, there is an alternative to GeoTIFF file format - you can download HGT files, which are simpler to decode (see the Quickstart PDF and the rest of the SRTM documentation).

You can also check out my answer to a similar question: How to get an elevation profile for a gps track?


digging deep enough I've found framework that can handle GeoTiff files . it is http://www.gdal.org/ I didnt try to use this whole framework, but it has a lot of source code that explains how to use geo data, geo algorithms and standards. I was even able to build my simple app which works perfect for me so far. That's a win!

This framework answers my original question. I can see how to handle and convert GeoTiff files and implement my own light-weight "engine" that fit my needs.

digging even deeper, check out http://freegis.org/database/?cat=1 there's a lot of frameworks, data sets and geo tools listed there. This website might be a good start point if you're working on any kind of geo (geo dependent) project.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.