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Chapter 1

Chapter One

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Mary Lou Byrne

GG101 Chapter 1: Essentials of Geography Week One January 7 th The Science of Geography • Geography – from geo “Earth” and graphein “to write” o Studies the relationships among natural systems, geographic areas society, cultural activities, and the interdependence of all of these over space • Geographers use spatial analysis o Spatial refers to the nature and character of physical space, its measurement, and the distribution of things within it • Geographers use Earth systems science: an interacting set of physical, chemical, and biological systems that produce a whole Earth o Groups of processes that are operating on earth o Energy and Atmosphere system  System of energy that comes in the planet and leaves (balance of energy between the sun and the Earth) o Water, weather & Climate system  The gases in the atmosphere contains water vapour and interacts with the surface of earth and can be stored and change form naturally, as well as being move from place to place which drives our climate (energy that moves through the water through the surface and atmosphere)  Earth atmosphere interface system (the solid earth)  Soil ecosystem  The link to living organisms o In order of the way the energy comes to the Earth (from space to Earth) • The science that studies the relationships among o Natural systems o Geographic areas o Society o Cultural activities o And the interdependence of all of these OVER SPACE Spatial Themes • Location: specific location/ address (halfway between the equator and North Pole) • Region: Uniform characteristics and how they form and change regards to their relation to other regions (75m above sea level) • Human – Earth relationships: resource exploitation, hazard perception, and environmental pollution and modification. (Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico) • Movement: Communication, circulation, migration, and diffusion across Earth’s surface (Snow geese feed and rest along their journey) • Place: No two places on Earth are exactly alike. (The Bay of Fundy) • Within these themes geography is governed by spatial analysis o Spatial Analysis (Salt – ocean fresh – lake): examination of the nature and character of physical space  Geography brings together knowledge from many fields, integrating information to form a whole Earth concept o Process (when they mix)  Set of actions or mechanisms that operate in some special order, is central to geographic analysis • Therefore physical geography is: the spatial analysis of all physical elements and process systems that make up the environment: energy, air, water, weather, climate, landforms, soils, animals, plants, and microorganisms. • Geographic continuum (Figure 1.3) o Physical and life sciences are at one end, and human cultural sciences are at the other end o Movement towards the middle of the continuum suggests a synthesis of Earth topics and human topics January 9 th Scientific method • Figure 1.1.1 Earth Systems Concepts • Systems Theory • System: any ordered, interrelated set of things and their attributes, linked by flows of energy and matter – linked to the flows of energy and matter o Both matter and energy are stored and retrieved and energy is transformed from one type to another.  Matter is a mass that assumes physical shape and occupies space; energy is a capacity to change the motion of, or to do work on, matter. • Sun is our where majority of our energy comes from and changes before and after going through the atmosphere • Earth Systems concepts o Open systems: energy in and out – more of this typically in nature on Earth Figure 1.4 and 1.5 are generally not self-contained: Inputs of energy and matter flow into the system, and inputs of energy and matter flow from the system (ex. A leaf is a natural open system)  Earth is an open system in terms of energy, because solar energy enters freely and heat energy leaves, going back into space.  Most Earth systems are dynamic because of the huge infusion of radiant energy from thermonuclear reactions deep within the Sun. o Closed systems: shut off from the surrounding environment so that it is self-contained  Rarely found in nature – Earth is essentially a closed system in terms of physical matter and recourses: air, water, and material resources.  Only exception are the slow escape of lightweight gases (such as hydrogen) from the atmosphere into space and the input of frequent but tiny meteors and cosmic meteoric dust o System Feedback: affects changed – as a system operates, it generates outputs that influence its own operations. These outputs function as “information” that is returned to various points in the system via feedback loops  In plants photosynthetic system, any changes in day length (sunlight availability), carbon dioxide, or water produce feedback that changes the growth process  Positive Feedback: If feedback encourages more change in the system – stimulates further system changes in response to an initial change (ex. Global Climate Change) Positive feedback enhances the original change  Resulting change increasingly differs from the starting state  Negative Feedback: if feedback discourages continued change in response to an initial change - damps down (diminishes) original change  Tends to preserve the starting state o Equilibrium: balance (relates to open systems: the amount of energy is the same amount of energy that goes out  Steady-state: rates of inputs and outputs in the system are equal and the amounts of energy and matter in storage within the system are constant (or more realistically, as the amounts fluctuate around a stable average – such as body weight) - values fluctuate around a steady average  Dynamic: steady state may demonstrate a changing trend over time. - values of the average may themselves change (longterm average)  Threshold: (a tipping point) try to avoid abrupt changes where this would happen where it can no longer maintain its character, so it lurches to a new operational level  This abrupt change places the system in a metastable equilibrium • Earth is an open system regarding energy o More like a closed when it comes to matter Systems in Geosystems • Ear
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