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Understanding slope

Available with 3D Analyst license.

Slope identifies the steepest downhill slope for a location on a surface. Slope is calculated for each triangle in TINs and for each cell in rasters. For a triangulated irregular network (TIN), this is the maximum rate of change in elevation across each triangle. For rasters, it is the maximum rate of change in elevation over each cell and its eight neighbors.

The Slope command takes an input surface raster and calculates an output raster containing the slope at each cell. The lower the slope value, the flatter the terrain; the higher the slope value, the steeper the terrain. The output slope raster can be calculated as percent slope or degree of slope.

Calculation of the output slope raster

When the slope angle equals 45 degrees, the rise is equal to the run. Expressed as a percentage, the slope of this angle is 100 percent. As the slope approaches vertical (90 degrees), the percentage slope approaches infinity.

The Slope function is most frequently run on an elevation grid, as the following diagrams show. Steeper slopes are shaded red on the output slope map.

Elevation dataset and output slope dataset

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