I have used infra red photos to identify territories in Norway where I have drawn polygons for different vegetation. I wonder if there is a way to use the polygons with elevation data to get the exact area since the territories varies a lot from high to low.

I also wonder if there is a easier way to identify the vegetation and to get the exact area with help of elevation data.

I´m using Windows 8.1 and I´m working in ArcGIS.

  • 2
    Can you specify what software you are using/have available?
    – Liam G
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 10:01
  • I´m using Windows 8.1 and I´m working in ArcGIS. I hope I answered correctly to your question now. I´m an intern at Naturskyddsföreningen in Sweden so I´m not an expert at GIS and I only know the basic stuff.
    – Sara
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 13:27
  • This question was asked and answered generally (without reference to ArcGIS) at gis.stackexchange.com/questions/19437 .
    – whuber
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you are concerned about the area of a particular polygon/s changing as a result of elevation. That sounds more like surface area. There is an ArcGIS tool that will calculate this called "Surface Volume" that is described here: Surface Volume (3D Analyst). The tool calculates both surface area and volume based on an input raster, TIN, or terrain dataset surface containing elevation data.

You may want to consider that the surface area of a vegetation polygon does not necessarily reflect the surface area of the vegetation within. That would vary depending on other factors such as plant height and density.

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