CHAPTER 1 RCHAN747
What is geography?
The study of
ohumans and environments in interaction
oHow and why things differ from place to place on the earth
oHow observable spatial patterns evolved through time
oCollect data obtained from satellites.
oSpace and location matters
oWant to know answers to:
Where is it?
Why is it there?
Why is it important?
oLocation precise position
Epidemiologists (people who study the spread of diseases) oCollect data on the occurrence of diseases.
oDr. J Snow
“the most terrible outbreak of cholera which ever occurred in this kingdom, is
probably that which took place in Broad Street, Golden Square, and the
adjoining streets, a few week ago.” (Sept 1854)
“within two hundred and fifty yards of the spot where the two streets meet, there
were upwards of five hundred fatal attacks of cholera in ten days.”
People left because the death count was rising very high.
The city was deserted by more than threequarters of the population.
What is the problem?
Dr. Snow thought that it could be the water.
He wanted to check the water.
He asked the people where they got their water from and he found out
that the people who were dying were getting their water from the
He mapped it out.
On the Beach
oNeed for water
oBeaches as highways
oLaunching point for discovery
oNearness to water requirements
oHumanity coming to terms with environment
oWhy do we live where we do even if we “know” there are hazards? Evolution of the Discipline
oGeo, “the earth” and graphein, “to write”
oWriting focused both on the physical structure and on the nature and activities of the
people who inhabited the various lands of the known world.
oGreek and Romans geographers measured the earth, in a global grid of parallels and
meridians (latitudes and longitudes).
oAncient Chinese were as involved in geography explanatory viewpoint as were
westerners, though there was no exchange between them.
oMuslim scholars took the knowledge that was lost in the middle ages, and described and
analyzed their known world in its physical, cultural, and regional variation.
oModern geography beginning in the 17 century.
oEarly 1800’s; organized interlinking research
oNational societies 19 C interest in exploration. Groups were formed to tell stories about
their adventures. People started writing papers about what they found.
Royal Geographic Society: The American Geographical Society 1852
National Geographic Society 1881
Institute of British Geographers 1933
Canadian Association of Geographers 1951
Subfields of Geography oBy the end of the 19 century, geography had become a distinctive and respected
discipline in universities throughout Europe.
oDevelopment of a whole series of increasingly specialized disciplinary subdivisions:
political geography, urban geography, and economic geography.
oAll subdivisions are characterized by three dominating interests:
Examines relationships between human societies and the natural
environments that they occupy and modify.
Focus on the systems that link physical phenomena and human activities in
one area of the earth with other areas.
Humanenvironmental relationships and spatial systems in specific
This areal orientation pursued by some geographers is called regional
oSystematic geographers: choose to identify particular classes of things, rather
than segments of the earth’s surface, for specialized study.
Physical geography the natural environmental side of the human
Landforms and their distribution
Human geography the emphasis is on people
Where they are
What they are like
How they interact over space
What kinds of landscapes of human use they erect on the natural
landscapes they occupy.
Why Geography Matters oThree reasons why people study geo.
1) the only discipline concerned with understanding why and how both physical
and cultural phenomena differs from place to place on the surface of the earth.
2) a grasp of the broad concerns and topics of geo is vital to an understanding of
the national and international problems that dominate daily news reports.
3) a great diversity of job opportunities await those who pursue college training in
Some Core Geographic Concepts
Recognizing spatial patterns is the essential starting point for understanding how people live on
and shape the earth’s surface.
Spatial, carries the idea of the way things are distributed, the way movements occur, and the
way processes operate over the whole or part of the surface of the earth.
Location, Direction and Distance
oAbsolute and relative location
oAbsolute location: is the identification of place by a precise and accepted system of
coordinates, sometimes called a mathematical location.
Ex. Global grid of parallels and meridians.
Reference to its degrees, minuets, and seconds of latitude and longitude.
Ex. Which hemisphere, north or south of the equator.
Ex. Survey systems
oRelative location: the position of a place or thing in relation to that of other places or
things. It expresses interconnection and interdependence and may carry social and
Ex. Neighborhood character, assessed valuations of vacant land, where the
school library is relative to the buildings around it (not by its address). Ex. Location tells us that people, things, and places exist in a world of physical
and cultural characteristics that differ from place to place.
oSite: an absolute location concept, refers to the physical and cultural characteristics and
attributes of the place itself. Tells us about the specific features of that place.
Ex. London is two hours away from the hwy.
oSituation: refers to the external relations of the place and particular reference to items
of significance to the place in question.
Ex. What other places are to that place. The site of London Ontario was at the
forks of the Tan River.
Ex. Ottawa was picked for it being French and English picked by Queen Victoria.
oAbsolute and relative direction
oAbsolute: is based on the cardinal points of north, south, east and west. These
appear in all cultures.
oRelative: or relational, going “out west” or “back east”. These directional references
are culturally based on locational variable.
Ex. Two blocks east of the library.
oAbsolute and relative distance.
oAbsolute: the spatial separation between two points on the earth’s surface measured
by an accepted standard unit, such as miles or km.
oRelative: transforms those linear measurements into other units more meaningful for
the space relationship
Ex. Money (10 dollars to bus to this point)
Ex. Time (1 hour to Toronto)
Ex. Fear (travelling somewhere you don’t want to go could take longer because
you a scared to go there)
Size and Scale
Scale: tells us the relationship between the size of an area on a map and the actual size of the
mapped area on the surface of the earth. Types of Scales:
oMacroscopic Process: covers large areas of the earth.
isostatic rebound; energy movement (removing a weight from the earth: ex.
Taking a glacier off the land, the land will lift up and respond to that removal.)
in general we don’t have much control over macroscopic processes by humans.
Humans are too powerless to affect something this big.
oMicroscopic Process: covers small areas.
Ex. Puddle in your back yard.
Technology allows humans to control microscopic processes.
oMesoscopic process: in between scale.
Newly scale features that in the past were macroscopic but we have some
control over some things.
Generalization: concepts, relationships, may not have meaning
when scale changes. Have to be selective and simplify the real world.
Physical and Cultural Attributes
All places have individual physical and cultural attributes that distinguish them from other places
and give them character, potential and meaning.
Natural Landscape: climate, soil, water supplies, mineral resources, terrain feature etc.
These provide the setting within which human action occurs.
Cultural Landscape: the visible imprint of human activity. Exists at different scales and
different levels of visibility. Attributes of Place Are Always Changing
Interrelations between Places
Spatial Interaction: places are interrelated with other places in structured and
comprehensible ways. This adds accessibility and connectivity to the ideas of location and
Tobler’s First Law of Geography: in a spatial sense, everything is related to everything
else but relationships are stronger when things are near on another. Interaction between
places diminished in intensity and frequency as distance increases.
Interactions Amoung Places
oNewtons law of gravity
F= (G M1M2)/(D^2)
I=(K Pi Pj) / (D^2 ij)
The number of phone calls btwn cities is an interaction btwn those two cities.
The interaction btwn two places (I and J) would be related to how big I and J are,
divided by the distance between I and J.
This model is telling us that interaction is greater between two places that are
Accessibility: how easy or difficult is it to overcome to barrier of the time and space separation
of places? Accessibility suggests the idea of connectivity: a concept implying all the
tangible and intangible ways in which places are connected. (Ex. Telephone lines, street and
road systems, pipelines, and sewers) Spatial Diffusion: process of dispersion of an idea or a thing from a center of origin to more
distant points. The rate is affected by distance. Rates are affected by factors such as
population densities, means of communication, advantages of the innovation, and importance
or prestige of the originating note.
Globalization: the increasing interconnection of more and more peoples and parts of the world
as the full range of social, cultural. Political, economic, and environmental processes becomes
international in scale and effect.
Place Similarity and Regions
Distinctive characteristics suggest that:
oNo two places on the surface of the earth can be exactly the same
oThe natural and cultural characteristic of places show patterns of similarity in some
Spatial regularities exist and permit us to recognize and define regions: earth areas that display
significant elements of internal uniformity and external differences from surrounding territories.
Geographers unify regions by elements or similarities to determine the boundaries of a region.
Regions are devised
Regions are spatial summaries that are designed to bring order to the infinite
diversity of the earth’s surface.
Regions are based on spatial distributions (the spatial arrangement of
environmental, human, or organizational features selected for study.)
Number of objects per unit of area
How near or far objects are from each other oPattern
Descriptive term that we attach to an organization of objects, theme
Types of Regions
oCan be either formal, functional, or perceptual
oAre conceptual constructs
oAreas of spatial similarity
oBring order from diversity
oHave location, boundaries.
oFormal region: an area of essential uniformity regarding a single physical or cultural
feature or a limited combination of physical or cultural features.
(Ex. Home state, a formal political region) (Ex. “Columbia Plateau” or “The Corn
Belt” or “The Rocky Mountains”)
oFunctional( or nodal) region: may be visualized as a spatial system. Its parts are
interdependent and throughout its extent the functional region operates as a dynamic,
organizational unit. Has unity in the manner of its operational connectivity.
(ex. Trade areas of towns, national “spheres of influence).
(Ex. Transportation routes)
(ex. Scales of retail btw WalMart and all its stores around the world)
oPerceptual (or vernacular or popular) regions: less rigorously structured
than the formal and functional regions. They are regions that exist and have reality in
the perceptions of their inhabitants and the general society. They reflect feelings and
images rather than objective data.
Geography’s Themes and Standards
Location: the meaning of relative and absolute position on the earth’s surface
Place: the distinctive and distinguishing physical and human characteristics of locales
Relationships with places: the development and consequences of humanenvironmental
movement: patterns and change in human spatial interaction on the earth
Regions: how they form and change.
September 28 , 2010
Environment determines what you are. These people believed this: Ellen Semple, Ellsworth Huntington,
and Griffith Taylor
Possibilism aspects of human culture are determined by us, not the environment. People determine
and choose. Human beings are in control of their future. This idea was promoted by Paul Vidal de la
Blache. Probabilisim stresses that human beings, technology, and the environment are all together.
The Four Tradition of Geography
Earth Science Tradition
•First part of textbook
•Study of the physical earth
•Lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and the energy and material that flow between them
•Physical geography as represented by geomorphology, meteorology, and climatology, hydrology,
•Influence of environment on humans
•Humans as agent to environmental destruction/change (human impact)
•Why things are the way they are
•Western European position, there is a separation of the happening of things such as aspects as
distance, form, direction, and position.
•Immanuel Kanta philosopher, the notion of space.
•Ancient records of Greece sailing distances coastline and landmark maps to locate
position in the world and move through the world.
Area Analysis Tradition
•StraboGreek geographer. Described all the known world not only where people and things
where but the nature of places and people, what they did and how they lived
•Regional Geography both formal and functional. (Geography of Canada or Geography of Ontario) Chapter 2- The Scientific Method and the Nature of Geographic Data
The Scientific Method
•Objective method of investigation
•Search for ‘Laws’
•Approach to problem solving
•Rational method of thinking, exploring
•Predictiongives us somewhat control over the future
•First credited to Sir Francis Bacon (15611626)
Advantages of the Scientific Method
•Can re reproduced
Two Methods of the Scientific Method:
1. Perceptual experiences
2. Unordered facts
3. Definition classification measurement
4. Ordered facts
5. Analysis generalization (make statements about the things we are interested in looking at)
6. Laws and Theories (to explain how the world operates or the problem that we are looking
7. Explanation (explain how the world works) *The key step in the inductive method is the definition classification measurement because without
it there is nothing else.
1. Perceptual experiences
2. Image of the real world (how the universe operates. We gain these ideas form our
3. A priori model (model from an experience)
4. Hypothesis (a testable statement about reality)
5. Design an experiment
6. Data (taken from the results of the experiment) (we record this data)
7. Verification (does the data support our hypothesis?)
8. Laws and Theories (if the verification process says yes, it does support the hypothesis,
then the hypothesis could be generated into a law or theory. If the verification doesn’t
support hypothesis, you will have to go back and do another experience or alter your
Representation of the object under study. 3 basic types, 2 different flavors. In order of increasing
1. Real World
2. Iconic Model represents the world. Changing the scale. taking the big world and
shrinking it to something more manageable.
Ex. Wave tank modeling wave erosion 3. Analogue Model take the properties that we are observing and we change them into
something else that we are measuring or looking at. One property is represented by
Ex. Contour lines for elevation.
4. Symbolic model uses symbol to represent the real world.
Ex. Usually in mathematical form.
Ex. Gravity model
Static and Dynamic Model
Static those concerned with one period of time. Time doesn’t play a role.
Dynamic those which predict future patterns and those which change over time. Most problems
fall in dynamic.
oWe have Control on variables, collect data, watch one variable. Yields good data in that
we limit the possible things that we are interested in. Many of the physical sciences
rely on this principal.
oDon’t have control. oObservation and measurement without controls.
oObserve events with a view of establishing constant relationships.
oDon’t have control.
oNo control but involves sequences over time.
oRelies heavily on accurate observations in time.
Problems of Sampling
How do I do it?
How many samples do I need?
If our feature is a point.. we should sample by areas (grids) on a map.
IF our feature is a line.. we should sample by other lines on a map or areas.
If our feature was an area.. we should sample by points, lines, or areas to sample it.
The shape of the curve: helpful. It is saying that as the number of samples increases, our confidence that
those samples represent the whole population rises very fast. The flat line, reaches a slow slope.
At a certain point, before it starts to flatten out, the + or – of a sample doesn’t affect the confidence.
Maps As the Tools of Geography
oMaps are geographer’s primary tools of spatial analysis
oThey show spatial distributions, patterns, and relations of interest
oOnly through a map can spatial distributions and interactions of whatever nature be
reduced to an observable scale isolated for individual study, and combined or
recombined to reveal relationships not directly measurable in the landscape itself.
oCartography is the art of making a graph.
Locating Points on a Sphere
The Geographic Grid
oWe use the geographic grid, a set of imaginary lines that intersect at right angles to
form a system of reference for locating points on the surface of the earth.
oNorth and South Poles are key references
End points of the axis about which the earth spins
oThe Equator and prime meridian are also key references
The equator encircles the globe halfway between the poles.
The prime meridian is a starting point for eastwest measurement, cartographers
in most countries use it as an imaginary line passing through the Royal
Observatory at Greenwich, England. Selected in 1884.
oLatitude is the angular distance north or south of the equator, measured in degrees
ranging from 090.
oLongitude is the angular distance east or west of the prime meridian ranging from 0
180 degrees. Time depends on longitude
oEarth makes a 360 degree rotation every 24 hours.
oThe Earth is divided into 24 time zones, each 15 degree interval.
These time zones were developed when train travel became popular.
oInternational Date Line is where each new day begins.
Land Survey Systems
Three other ways of landidentification:
Used by French settlers in North America.
oMetes and Bounds
English settlers in the colonies used this.
This system utilized physical features of the local geography, along with
directions and distances, to define and describe in sequence the boundaries
of a parcel of land.
Prominent trees, unusual rocks, streams that might dry up or change course, and
humanmade features such as roads and fences, the metes and bounds
system led to boundary uncertainty and dispute.
Led to road patterns, where routes are often controlled by the contours of the
land rather than the regularity of a geometric survey.
oTownship and Range
The Land Ordinance of 1785 established it.
It was based on survey lines oriented in the cardinal directions: base lines that
run eastwest and meridians that run northsouth. A township consisted of a square 6 miles on a side, further divided into 36
sections 1 mile on every side.
This system was adopted by the United States
This system is similar to the Canada Land Survey System.
oLatin mappa to cover
oScale: direction: symbols
oTool to understanding
oTo make observable
oLimits of mapping
omaps get things done
oneed title, legend, scale, direction indication (where N,S,E,W)
obegin with air photosprovides the base for our map
Globe properties are: oAll lines of longitude (meridians) are of equal length; each is onehalf the length of the
oAll meridians meet at the North and South Poles and are true northsouth lines
oAll lines of latitude (parallels) are parallel to the equator and to each other
oParallels decrease in length with distance from the equator
oMeridians and parallels intersect at right angles
oThe scale on the surface of the globe is everywhere the same in all directions.
Only on a globe do are all these characteristics represented.. they cannot all be fully true on a map
because when you lay a globe flat it is somewhat distorted.
Map Projection designates the way the curved surface of the globe is represented on a flat
All maps have distortions. Area, shape, distance, direction all get distorted.
We can project by: a Cylinder, plane, or cone.
Great circleshortest distance between two places on the earth’s surface
Gnomonic projectiongreat circle is a straight line. Rhumb lineline of constant direction, is a
curved line. North Pole is center view
Mercator projectiongreat circle is a curved line. Rhumb line is a straight line. Commonly
used for ship navigation. Classic Map
oAngles cant show poles Conic projection
Equal Area projectiondifferent areas of the world are true.
Equidistant projectiondistances on the map are true.
Homolosine projection sinusoidal curves with the interruptions over oceans
Dymaxion map or fuller map projectioncuts world into triangles. creates image of one
Conformaltrue shape and equivalentequal area map, areas on the map are equal. No map
can be both.
All flat maps distort in different