Numbering systems and conversions
Numbering Systems: Duo, Hex, and Decimal
many people like to say we live in a decimal (i.e., base 10) world this is not completely true. Our currency is in the decimal system as
everything is multiples of 10 or 100. e.g., 100 cents in a dollar. Natural resource inventories in the U.S. are collected with a
mixture of decimal (e.g., 100 links in a chain) and the duodecimal (e.g., base
12) numbering system, where examples include 12 inches in a foot.
Other numbering systems are all around us. For example, time is in the sexagesimal (i.e., base 60), with 60 seconds in a minute and 60
minutes in an hour. Also if you do any sort of computer programming, you will
also run across the hexadecimal system (i.e., base 12). In short, the world can
be a confusing mass of numbers.
Numbering Systems: English and Metric Units
In natural resource measurements two types of measurement
systems are commonly used. Namely, the Metric and English systems. In
the U.S., the metric system is used alongside the English system, which has
its origins from the colonial days and is often called the Imperial system
in Canada and Great Britain. The English system is generally used by
land and resource managers. The Metric system is predominantly used by
scientists and is most often the units reported in scientific journals and
proceedings. It is essential to know both systems and how to convert between
The SI (Système
International) System are standard measures that have been repeated in multiple
observations. Future attempts to make similar measurements can be compared against these
defined standards. We use predominantly these 4 in natural resources:
Length = meter (m): The length of light traveled in a vacuum in
Mass = kilogram (kg): The mass of a certain cylinder of
platinum-iridium alloy held in a vault in Sevres, France.
Time = seconds (s): 9192631770 vibrations of the radiation
emitted at a specific wavelength of cesium-133.
Temperature = Kelvin (K): 1/273.15 of the thermodynamic
temperature of the triple point of water.
Others SI measures include the ampere, mol, and candela.
Common English measures of length and area are:
1 foot = 12 inches
1 log = 2 sticks = 16 feet
1 chain = 4 rods = 22 yards = 66 feet = 100 links
1 square chain = 66 x 66 feet
1 acre = 10 sq chains
1 square mile = 640 acres
Numbering Systems: Common Conversions
between the metric and English systems (and vice versa) there are a series
of standard conversion formulas. Please refer to the following worksheets as
these are the conversion formulas used most commonly in natural resource measurements:
or Useful Rangeland Conversions