The MapTiler Terrain-RGB contains the digital elevation model (DEM) - global coverage. Not only you can use this data to enrich your map styles with hill shade or colored slopes but you can also use it in applications - such as elevation profiles, microwave link planning, etc.
The coding process
MapTiler Terrain-RGB tileset is available up to zoom level 12. Elevation data provides height above the sea level in meters for every single place in the world, measured for regions of approximately 30x30 meters. The elevation model is split into tiles and each tile has elevations encoded in a PNG image where each pixel color (red, green, blue) can be turned into elevation using a smart formula:
elevation = -10000 + ((R * 256 * 256 + G * 256 + B) * 0.1)
The format allows storing elevations very efficiently (3 bytes vs. 4 or 8 bytes in case of floating-point numbers) with sufficient precision.
Splitting DEM into raster tiles has all the advantages of a tiled map. The main one is low traffic for web applications because the browser loads only the tiles in the current view with appropriate resolution and download additional data just in case the user zoom in or pan the map.
If you would open any tile from the tileset in an image viewer, you would see something like this:
Don’t be confused by the unusual look you will see at first glance: this is not a final product meant for direct viewing yet, but a base for adaptation.
Since the data contain the encoded elevation values directly, there are many potential applications. You can add the data into your map in order to create a nice visual shaded relief for your maps.
You can even change the hill shading colors and light direction. It can be easily done in the integrated map style editor in MapTiler Cloud.
Another application where you can highlight elevation is hypsometry. The traditional color model used mostly for the relief model in geographical maps contains green color for lowlands, yellow for highlands, brown for mountains, and a different tone of blue for bathymetry.
Terrain profiles have a wide range of applications. You can use them for trip planning, terrain analysis, microwave links planning, pipelines, and electric wires planning, etc.
Check out this demo of the Elevation Profile.