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Definition: spatial resolution

(Data West Research Agency definition: see GIS glossary.) A measure of the accuracy or detail of a graphic display, expressed as dots per inch, pixels per line, lines per millimeter, etc. It is a measure of how fine an image is, usually expressed in dots per inch (dpi). The minimum difference or distance between two independently measured or computed values or objects that can be distinguished by the measurement or analytical method, or sensor being considered or used. It provides a limit to precision and accuracy. Often called spatial resolution but also applies to spectral and temporal aspects of remote sensing imaging systems.

Resolution is the accuracy at which a given map scale can depict the location and shape of map features; the larger the map scale, the higher the possible resolution. As map scale decreases, resolution diminishes and feature boundaries must be smoothed, simplified, or not shown at all. It is the size of the smallest feature that can be represented in a surface. For example, small areas may have to be represented as points.