E.g. an areal/area estimate of corn in Iowa

"Areal" is commonly found in remote sensing and land cover literature (this article, for example). Which is most appropriate to describe the estimation of corn area?

  • Please use area as some people (e.g. me) often misread areal as a-real rather than area-l.
    – Henry
    Jan 15, 2014 at 21:36

2 Answers 2


In normal conversation, you would say it an estimation of "corn acreage". Or the "area" corn is grown in Iowa. "Areal" appears to be an adjective form of area, but I have never heard it used that way.

  • unfortunately it's "corn square kilometers" that I'm estimating. I've generalized the question. Jan 15, 2014 at 21:25
  • 1
    @metasequoia: Nevertheless, acreage would be understood, and there is a case for saying that 'the acreage is 1 million sqaure kilometres' is correct, though it might be momentarily puzzling. Jan 15, 2014 at 21:28
  • @metasequoia Every field has its' technical jargon, if this is for professionals in the field of remote sensing and/or land cover then I suppose you might choose "areal". Otherwise, it's likely to be confused with "aerial". Jan 15, 2014 at 21:30
  • @TimLymington: Great point. I had always assumed that it was like 'mileage' in that it necessarily invoked the measurement unit. Jan 15, 2014 at 21:35

Speaking as geomatician (or one expert in geomatics, which includes remote sensing):

areal -- Of or related to a two-dimensional spatial or geographical extent, but not necessarily involving a quantity. Also regional.

area -- 1. A two-dimensional spatial or geographical extent. Also region. 2. Measurement of same. Also size.

[apologies for any lack of correct dictionary style]

So "an area estimate of corn" or "an area estimate for corn" are correct, but "an estimate of corn area" or "an estimate for corn area" are perhaps better.

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