Geography

Geography

Geography information for online study; you can learn about geography and related subjects, self-study and e-Learning courses about geography.

Geography

Since the beginning of humankind, the study of geography has captured the imagination of the people. In ancient times, geography books extolled tales of distant lands and dreamed of treasures. The ancient Greeks created the word "geography" from the roots "ge" for earth and "graphs" for "to write." These people experienced many adventures and needed a way to explain and communicate the differences between various lands. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. They also examine how human culture interacts with the natural environment and the way that location and places can have an impact on people. Geography seeks to understand where things are found, why they are there, and how they develop and change over time. Scientific study of the earth as a home of man.

Geography is study of interrelationship on natural and human phenomena on the earth’s surface. Physical geography is the study of Earth’s seasons, climate, atmosphere, soil, streams, landforms, and oceans. Human geography is the study of the distribution of networks of people and cultures on Earth’s surface. You can have subjects like the: history of war, the history of sports, the history of comic books, etc. Geographers can study these same issues, and virtually anything else, but the geographer's perspective is SPATIAL, rather than TEMPORAL like the historians. Hence there can also be the geography of war, the geography of sports, and the geography of comic books. What geographers add to such topics is the spatial perspective.

History of Geography

Geography was first systematically studied by the ancient Greeks, who also developed a philosophy of geography; Thales of Miletus, Herodotus, Eratosthenes, Aristotle, Strabo, and Ptolemy made major contributions to geography. The Roman contribution to geography was in the exploration and mapping of previously unknown lands. Greek geographic learning was maintained and enhanced by the Arabs during the middle Ages. Arab geographers, among whom Idrisi, Ibn Battutah, and Ibn Khaldun are prominent, traveled extensively for the purpose of increasing their knowledge of the world. The journeys of Marco Polo in the latter part of the middle Ages began the revival of geographic interest outside the Muslim world.

Important contributions to the advancement of geography and to the development of geographic concepts have been made by Ferdinand von Richthofen, Albrecht Penck, Friedrich Ratzel, Alfred Hettner, Karl Haushofer, and Walter Chris taller in Germany; Paul Vidal de la Blache, Jean Brunhes, Conrad Malte-Brun, Elisée Reclus, and Emmanuel de Martonne in France; and William Morris Davis, Isaiah Bowman, Ellen Churchill Semple, Carl O. Sauer, Albert Brigham, and Richard Hartshorne in the United States. Today geography is studied by governmental agencies and in many of the world's universities. Research is stimulated by such noted geographic institutions as the Royal Geographical Society (1830, Great Britain), the American Geographical Society (1852, United States), and the Société de Geographie (1821, France). Since the end of World War II, geography, like other disciplines, has experienced the explosion of knowledge brought on by the new tools of modern technology for the acquisition and manipulation of data; these include aerial photography, remote sensors (including infrared and satellite photography), and the computer (for quantitative analysis and mapping). The quantitative method of geographical research has gained much ground since the 1950s, Edward Ullman and William Garrison of the United States and Peter Hagget of Great Britain being leading exponents.

Historical geography is a sub-discipline of human geography concerned with the geographies of the past and with the influence of the past in shaping the geographies of the present and the future.

Before the 20th century, the term 'historical geography' was used to describe at least three distinct intellectual endeavors: the recreation of the geographies described in the Bible and in 'classical' Greek and Roman narratives; the 'geography behind history' as revealed by the changing frontiers and borders of states and empires; and the history of geographical exploration and discovery.

Fragmented and incoherent, these early writings have had little impact on 20th-century historical geography, the intellectual roots of which can be traced to the late 19th-century writings on regional landscape formation by French geographers such as Paul Vidal de la Blache (whose influence spread into Britain through the work of H. J. Fleure and A. J. Herbertson) and by the German school of anthropogeography led by Friedrich Ratzel (a perspective successfully promoted in the USA by Ellen Semple).

Physical Geography

Physical geology is the study of the earth's rocks, minerals, and soils and how they have formed through time. Complex internal processes such as plate tectonics and mountain-building have formed these rocks and brought them to the earth's surface. Earthquakes are the result of the sudden movement of crustal plates, releasing internal energy that becomes destructive at the surface. Internal heat and energy are released also through volcanic eruptions. External processes such as glaciation, running water, weathering, and erosion have formed the landscapes we see today. About 2300 years ago, the Greeks, led by the philosopher Aristotle, were among the first to try to understand the earth. During the 1600s and 1700s, scientists believed the earth had been produced by gigantic, sudden, catastrophic events that built mountains, canyons, and oceans. In the late 1700s, James Hutton, a Scottish doctor, proposed that the physical processes that shape the world today also operated in the geologic past—a principle known as uniformitarianism. Another early concept was the law of superposition—in an unreformed sequence of sedimentary rocks, each layer is younger than the ones below it and older than those above it. It's a little deceiving (even overly simplistic) to say that physical geography studies the Earth as our home and looks at the four spheres because each possible area of research encompasses so much. The atmosphere itself has several layers to study, but the atmosphere as a topic under the lens of physical geography also includes research areas such as the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, wind, jet streams, and weather. The hydrosphere encompasses everything having to do with water, from the water cycle to acid rain, groundwater, runoff, currents, tides, and oceans. The biosphere concerns living things on the planet and why they live where they do, with topics from ecosystems and biomes to food webs and the carbon and nitrogen cycles. The study of the lithosphere includes geological processes, such as the formation of rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, soil, glaciers, and erosion.

The law of faunal succession states that fossils in these rocks occur in the same kind of order, and changes in fossil content represent changes in time. Thus, rocks from different parts of the world containing the same type of fossil formed about the same time. English geologist Charles Lyell enlarged on these ideas and modernized geology with his series of books in the mid to late 1800s. 

Sub-Branches of Physical Geography 

Since the Earth and its systems are so complex, there are many sub-branches and even sub-sub-branches of physical geography as a research area, depending on how granularly the categories are divided. They also have overlap between them or with other disciplines, such as geology.

Geographical researchers will never be at a loss of something to study, as they often need to understand multiple areas to inform their own targeted research.

Geomorphology 

The study of Earth's landforms and its surface's processes—and how these processes change and have changed Earth's surface—such as erosion, landslides, volcanic activity, earthquakes, and floods
Coastal geography: the study of the coasts, specifically concerning what happens where land and water meet
Oceanography: the study of the world's oceans and seas, including aspects such as floor depths, tides, coral reefs, underwater eruptions, and currents. Exploration and mapping is a part of oceanography, as is research into the effects of water pollution.

Quaternary Science

The study of the previous 2.6 million years on Earth, such as the most recent ice age and Holocene period, including what it can tell us about the change in Earth's environment and climate
Biogeography: the study of the distribution of life forms across the planet, relating to their environments; this field of study is related to ecology, but it also looks into the past distribution of life forms as well, as found in the fossil record.

Hydrology 

The study of the water cycle, including water distribution across the planet in lakes, rivers, aquifers, and groundwater; water quality; drought effects; and the probability of flooding in a region. Pomology is the study of rivers.

Glaciology

The study of glaciers and ice sheets, including their formation, cycles, and effect on Earth's climate
Pedology: the study of soil, including types, formation, and regional distribution over Earth
Paleogeography: the study of historical geographies, such as the location of the continents over time, through looking at geological evidence, such as the fossil record.

Landscape Ecology 

The study of how ecosystems interact with and affect each other in an area, especially looking at the effects of the uneven distribution of landforms and species in these ecosystems (spatial heterogeneity).

Geomatics

The field that gathers and analyzes geographic data, including the gravitational force of Earth, the motion of the poles and Earth's crust, and ocean tides (geodesy). In geomatics, researchers use the Geographic Information System (GIS), which is a computerized system for working with map-based data.

Meteorology

The study of Earth's weather, such as fronts, precipitation, wind, storms, and the like, as well as forecasting short-term weather based on available data.

Climatology

The study of Earth's atmosphere and climate, how it has changed over time, and how humans have affected it
Environmental geography: the study of the interactions between people and their environment and the resulting effects, both on the environment and on the people; this field bridges physical geography and human geography.

Astronomical Geography or Astronography

The study of how the sun and moon affect the Earth as well as our planet's relationship to other celestial bodies.

Human Geography

Whereas physical geography concentrates on spatial and environmental processes that shape the natural world and tends to draw on the natural and physical sciences for its scientific underpinnings and methods of investigation, human geography concentrates on the spatial organization and processes shaping the lives and activities of people, and their interactions with places and nature. Human geography is more allied with the social sciences and humanities, sharing their philosophical approaches and methods (see physical geography for a discussion on the relationship between human and physical geography; environmental geography).

Human geographers also study how people use and alter their environments. When, for example, people allow their animals to overgraze a region, the soil erodes and grassland is transformed into desert. The impact of overgrazing on the landscape as well as agricultural production is an area of study for human geographers. Finally, human geographers study how political, social, and economic systems are organized across geographical space. These include governments, religious organizations, and trade partnerships. The boundaries of these groups constantly change. Human Geography combines economic and cultural geography to explore the relationships between humans and their natural environment, and to track the broad social patterns that shape human societies. Featuring communities around the world that are grappling with major socioeconomic change, the programs help students understand present-day events within the scope of clearly recognizable trends, and realize the impact that government, corporate, and individual decisions may have on people and places near and far. This series may serve as an introductory course for students of cultural or economic geography, or as a resource for sociology, anthropology, or social science departments. The main divisions within human geography reflect a concern with different types of human activities or ways of living. Some examples of human geography include urban geography, economic geography, cultural geography, political geography, social geography, and population geography. Human geographers who study geographic patterns and processes in past times are part of the sub discipline of historical geography. Those who study how people understand maps and geographic space belong to a sub discipline known as behavioral geography.

Environmental Geography

Environmental Geography is the part of Geography that has the most active collaboration between human and physical geographers, as they study the relationships between environments and societies in places. The Environmental Geography Unit investigates environmental pressures and change with special emphasis on time, scale and localization aspects, and with the aim of informing environmental management and planning at different levels of governance.

We study changes in land use and land cover, and related effects on landscape composition and functions. Moreover, we analyze localization of sectorial activities, related resource use, flows and emissions at relevant spatial scales; and the usefulness of environmental policy frameworks and instruments on human practices, land use and landscape.t involves several aspects of the relationship between humans and the environment. This begins with recognition that what we call "natural resources" are socially constructed. That is, something only becomes a resource if humans make it so through a variety of cultural, technological, and economic filters. It is not possible to understand environmental problems without understanding the demographic, cultural, and economic processes that lead to increased resource consumption and waste generation. Many of these processes are complex and transnational. Potential solutions arise only from understanding the "normal" functioning of biogas-chemical cycles (the circulation of water, carbon, nitrogen, and so on) as well as the technologies that humans employ to interfere with those cycles. Studies have encompassed the anthropogenic pressures on the environment at different geographical scales and how regulation addresses land use change at various levels, from EU level policy regulating or affecting land use and land use intensity and structure, to single actors’ strategies towards land use and landscape management – and from spatial analyses of the exposure to traffic noise across the EU to investigation of biotope structure in local communities. Environmental geography represents a critically important set of analytical tools for assessing the impact of human presence on the environment by measuring the result of human activity on natural landforms and cycles. This program draws on courses within physical geography, including a distinctive strand of courses dealing with environmental issues, resources and management. Teaching and learning methods are diverse, ranging from lectures and tutorials through to a variety of practical work in cartography, GIS, remote sensing and statistics.
  
Analyses and models based on Geographical information systems (GIS) constitute an important methodological approach for our research, and integration of different thematic data from a range of sources is one of our strengths. Data for land use and land cover is a central asset for the work as land use translates the pressure from different driving forces to effects on the environment in a spatial perspective. Examples of research issues are studies of landscape coherence, modeling of future scenarios for urban development and transport accessibility, and methods for identification of vulnerable areas towards different societal pressures such as air pollution, climate change or use of pharmaceuticals. Regional or comparative analyses of policy drivers for changes of land based systems and interactions between driving forces, scales of environmental processes and appropriate units of regulation is another area of research. In these studies we use various qualitative and quantitative social science methods.

Cartography

Cartography is the creation and the study of maps and charts - the difference being that maps apply to land and charts are for marine areas. It has a long tradition going back at least 4000 years; inextricably tied to geography for most of its history, in the 20th century it has diversified as it becomes more relevant in an increasingly digital modern world. Despite the advent of GIS, the two disciplines are not competing with each other, but complementing each other through a cross-disciplinary approach.

It isn't just about the compilation or the process of mapping, but also the history of maps. Who doesn't enjoy looking at what the world's borders or even their local area looked like 100 years ago? This is a valuable source for a wide range of academic disciplines. Mapping in early civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Egypt were linked to astronomy and what we then knew about the stars and about geometry and surveying. This information was vital to far more than mapping too; by plotting the heavens, leaders could organize society around the growing seasons. Surveying permitted the building of huge monuments, to plot how much land people owned and charge them tax. It is said the most efficient government documents are often the tax records and this is no less true now than it was then. The discipline seemed to change little between then and the eras of Greek civilization and Rome though the pinnacle of cartography during the Roman Empire was the map of the Roman world produced by Claudius Ptolemaist. He produced a map of what he called “The Old World” (as it was then) and published a book called Geographic Hyphygesis (Guide to Geography) which would remain the primary authority in Europe for the next 1400 years. Great strides were made in China and the Islamic world but the reason for compiling them were often the same as the reasons they were compiled in Europe. That is, for political purposes to show the importance of the person or the country compiling them, to show the country or people in relation to the rest of the world, or predominance in relation to religious centers.

Cartographers collect and analyze geographic information to make maps. They use geodetic surveys and sensing systems to collect information needed. They represent the data collected visually and review the data. 

Cartographers revise and update the maps as needed. They use interactive maps to display the information as more people want online and mobile maps available.

Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems is a computer-based tool that analyzes stores, manipulates and visualizes geographic information, usually in a map. A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. By relating seemingly unrelated data, GIS can help individuals and organizations better understand spatial patterns and relationships.

GIS technology is a crucial part of spatial data infrastructure, which the White House defines as “the technology, policies, standards, human resources, and related activities necessary to acquire, process, distribute, use, maintain, and preserve spatial data.”

GIS can use any information that includes location. The location can be expressed in many different ways, such as latitude and longitude, address, or ZIP code. 

GIS Maps

Once all of the desired data have been entered into a GIS system, they can be combined to produce a wide variety of individual maps, depending on which data layers are included. One of the most common uses of GIS technology involves comparing natural features with human activity. For instance, GIS maps can display what manmade features are near certain natural features, such as which homes and businesses are in areas prone to flooding.
GIS technology also allows to “dig deep” in a specific area with many kinds of information. Maps of a single city or neighborhood can relate such information as average income, book sales, or voting patterns. Any GIS data layer can be added or subtracted to the same map. GIS maps can be used to show information about numbers and density. For example, GIS can show how many doctors there are in a neighborhood compared with the area’s population. 

Data Capture

GIS applications include both hardware and software systems. These applications may include cartographic data, photographic data, digital data, or data in spreadsheets. Cartographic data are already in map form, and may include such information as the location of rivers, roads, hills, and valleys. Cartographic data may also include survey data, mapping information which can be directly entered into a GIS. Photographic interpretation is a major part of GIS. Photo interpretation involves analyzing aerial photographs and assessing the features that appear. Digital data can also be entered into GIS. An example of this kind of information is computer data collected by satellites that show land use—the location of farms, towns, and forests.

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is the process of detecting and monitoring the physical characteristics of an area by measuring its reflected and emitted radiation at a distance from the targeted area. Special cameras collect remotely sensed images of the Earth, which help researchers "sense" things about the Earth. 

A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing feature events on earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations, such as query and statistical analysis, with maps. GIS manages location-based information and provides tools for display and analysis of various statistics, including population characteristics, economic development opportunities, and vegetation types. GIS allows you to link databases and maps to create dynamic displays. Additionally, it provides tools to visualize, query, and overlay those databases in ways not possible with traditional spreadsheets. These abilities distinguish GIS from other information systems, and make it valuable to a wide range of public and private enterprises for explaining events, predicting outcomes, and planning strategies.

Notable Geographers

Geography is unique in bridging the social sciences and the natural sciences. There are two main branches of geography: human geography and physical geography. Human geography is concerned with the spatial aspects of human existence. Physical geographers study patterns of climates, landforms, vegetation, soils, and water. Geographers use many tools and techniques in their work, and geographic technologies are increasingly important for understanding our complex world. They include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and online mapping such as Google Earth. Geographers study the earth, its land and systems, and its animal and human inhabitants. While this may sound quite broad, geography itself is a very broad field, encompassing both the natural and social sciences. Geography is generally divided into two subfields - physical and human. Physical geographers study the physical aspects of the surface of the planet, such as landforms, glaciers, atmospheric and hydrological phenomena, and natural hazards, and how they influence populations. Human geographers study human cultures and their political and economic characteristics.

Famous Geographers are:

  • Eratosthenes
  • Al Idrisi
  • Alexander von Humboldt
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Carl Ritter
  • Arnaldo Faustini
  • Institutions

Top 10 Institutes of Geography

  1. University of Oxford, United Kingdom        
  2. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), United Kingdom    
  3. University of Cambridge, United Kingdom        
  4. University of British Columbia, Canada        
  5. University of California, United States        
  6. Durham University, United Kingdom        
  7. University of California, United States        
  8. UCL (University College London), United Kingdom        
  9. University of Toronto,  Canada        
  10. National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore

Methods of Geography

Quantitative Method in Geography: Geography is a diverse discipline that seeks to understand our world in terms of space and place. Geographers use quantitative approaches to describe, understand, and assess geographic phenomena. In the history of geography, the quantitative revolution was one of the four major turning-points of modern geography. The main claim for the quantitative revolution is that it led to a shift from a descriptive geography to an empirical law- making geography. The quantitative revolution occurred during the 1950s and 1960s and marked a rapid change in the method behind geographical research, from regional geography into a spatial science. The quantitative revolution had occurred earlier in economics and psychology and contemporaneously in political science and other social sciences and to a lesser extent in history.

Quantitative research is often contrasted with qualitative research, which is the examination, analysis and interpretation of observations for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships, including classifications of types of phenomena and entities, in a manner that does not involve mathematical models Qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses. Quantitative methods can be used to verify which of such hypotheses are true Qualitative research is often used to gain a general sense of phenomena and to form theories that can be tested using further quantitative research.

Geographer Techniques

As early as 1500 BCE, Polynesian navigators in the Pacific Ocean used complex maps made of tiny sticks and shells that represented islands and ocean currents they would encounter on their voyages. Today, satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense communicate with receivers on the ground called global positioning system (GPS) units to instantly identify exact locations on Earth. Technological developments during the past 100 years have given rise to a number of other specialties for scientists studying geographic techniques. The airplane made it possible to photograph land from above. Now, there are many satellites and other above-Earth vehicles that help geographers figure out what the surface of the planet looks like and how it is changing.

Geographers looking at what above-Earth cameras and sensors reveal are specialists in remote sensing. Pictures taken from space can be used to make maps, monitor ice melt, assess flood damage, track oil spills, predict weather, or perform endless other functions. For example, by comparing satellite photos taken from 1955 to 2007, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) discovered that the rate of coastal erosion along Alaska’s Beaufort Sea had doubled. Every year from 2002 to 2007, about 45 feet per year of coast, mostly icy permafrost, vanished into the sea. The popularity and importance of GIS has given rise to a new science known as geographic information science (GISci). Geographic information scientists study patterns in nature as well as human development. They might study natural hazards, such as a fire that struck Los Angeles, California, in 2008. A map posted on the internet showed the real-time spread of the fire, along with information to help people make decisions about how to evacuate quickly. GIS can also illustrate human struggles from a geographic perspective, such as the interactive online map published by the New York Times in May 2009 that showed building foreclosure rates in various regions around the New York City area.