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:
§here is it?
§hy is it there?
§hy 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.”
§eople left because the death count was rising very high.
§he city was deserted by more than three-quarters of the
§hat is the problem?
úr. Snow thought that it could be the water.
úe wanted to check the water.
úe 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 same pump.
úe mapped it out.
On the Beach
oNeed for water
oBeaches as highways
oLaunching point for discovery
oNearness to water requirements Hazards
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
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
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.
§oyal Geographic Society: The American Geographical
§ational Geographic Society 1881
§nstitute of British Geographers 1933
§anadian 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:
úamines relationships between human societies and
the natural environments that they occupy and
modify. §ocus on the systems that link physical phenomena and
human activities in one area of the earth with other areas.
úuman-environmental relationships and spatial
systems in speciﬁc locational settings.
úhis areal orientation pursued by some geographers is
called regional geography.
oSystematic geographers: choose to identify particular classes of
things, rather than segments of the earth’s surface, for
§hysical geography the natural environmental side of the
úandforms and their distribution
§uman geography the emphasis is on people
úhere they are
úhat they are like
úow they interact over space
úhat kinds of landscapes of human use they erect on
the natural landscapes they occupy.
Why Geography Matters
oThree reasons why people study geo.
§) 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.
§) 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.
§) a great diversity of job opportunities await those who
pursue college training in the discipline.
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
§x. Global grid of parallels and meridians.
§eference to its degrees, minuets, and seconds of latitude and
§x. Which hemisphere, north or south of the equator.
§x. 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 economic
§x. 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
§x. 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.
§x. 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
oRelative: transforms those linear measurements into other units
more meaningful for the space relationship
§x. Money (10 dollars to bus to this point)
Ex. Time (1 hour to Toronto)
§ §x. 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.
§sostatic 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.
§x. Puddle in your back yard.
§echnology allows humans to control microscopic processes.
oMesoscopic process: in between scale.
§ewly 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
Natural Landscape: climate, soil, water supplies, mineral resources,
terrain feature etc. These provide the setting within which human
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 distance. 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
§= (G M1M2)/(D^2)
§=(K Pi Pj) / (D^2 ij)
§he number of phone calls btwn cities is an interaction btwn
those two cities.
§he interaction btwn two places (I and J) would be related to
how big I and J are, divided by the distance between I and
§his model is telling us that interaction is greater between
two places that are closer together.
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 areas.
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
§egions are devised
§egions are spatial summaries that are designed to bring
order to the inﬁnite diversity of the earth’s surface.
§egions are based on spatial distributions (the spatial
arrangement of environmental, human, or organizational
features selected for study.)
§umber of objects per unit of area
§ow near or far objects are from each other
§escriptive term that we attach to an organization of objects,
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 Wal-Mart and all its stores around
§ 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
Place: the distinctive and distinguishing physical and human
characteristics of locales
Relationships with places: the development and consequences of human-
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
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, and oceanography.
•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 Kant-a 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
•Strabo-Greek 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 Geograph c Data
The Scientiﬁc Method
•Objective method of investigation
•Search for ‘Laws’
•Approach to problem solving
Rational method of thinking, exploring
•Prediction-gives us somewhat control over the future
•First credited to Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Advantages of the Scientiﬁc Method
•Can re reproduced
Two Methods of the Scientiﬁc Method:
3.Deﬁnition classiﬁcation measurement
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 at)
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.
2.Image of the real world (how the universe operates. We gain these
ideas form our experiences)
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
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
Models Representation of the object under study. 3 basic types, 2 different ﬂavors.
In order of increasing abstraction.
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 another.
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
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
§nd points of the axis about which the earth spins
oThe Equator and prime meridian are also key references
§he equator encircles the globe halfway between the poles.
§he prime meridian is a starting point for east-west
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 0-90.
oLongitude is the angular distance east or west of the prime
meridian ranging from 0-180 degrees.
§ime 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
oInternational Date Line is where each new day begins.
Land Survey Systems
Three other ways of land-identiﬁcation:
§sed by French settlers in North America.
oMetes and Bounds
§nglish settlers in the colonies used this.
§his 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.
§rominent trees, unusual rocks, streams that might dry up
or change course, and human-made 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
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 east-west and meridians that
§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 photos-provides the base for our map
Globe properties are:
oAll lines of longitude (meridians) are of equal length; each is one-
half the length of the equator.
oAll meridians meet at the North and South Poles and are true
oAll lines of latitude (parallels) are parallel to the equator and to
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
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
Map Projection designates the way the curved surface of the globe is
represented on a ﬂat map.
All maps have distortions. Area, shape, distance, direction all get distorted. We can project by: a Cylinder, plane, or cone.