Instead, geography is concerned with many different topics—people, culture, politics , settlements, plants, landform s, and much more.
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What distinguishes geography is that it approaches the study of diverse topics in a particular way that is, from a particular perspective. It looks at these different distributions and arrangements at many different scales. Geography seeks to understand where things are found and why they are present in those places; how things that are located in the same or distant places influence one another over time; and why places and the people who live in them develop and change in particular ways.
But exploration no longer simply means going to places that have not been visited before. It means document ing and trying to explain the variations that exist across the surface of Earth, as well as figuring out what those variations mean for the future. The age-old practice of mapping still plays an important role in this type of exploration, but exploration can also be done by using images from satellite s or gathering information from interviews. Discoveries can come by using computers to map and analyze the relationship among things in geographic space, or from piecing together the multiple forces, near and far, that shape the way individual places develop.
Studies of the geographic distribution of human settlements have shown how economic forces and modes of transport influence the location of towns and cities.
For example, geographic analysis has pointed to the role of the U. Interstate Highway System and the rapid growth of car ownership in creating a boom in U. The geographic perspective helped show where Americans were moving, why they were moving there, and how their new living places affected their lives, their relationships with others, and their interactions with the environment. Geographic analyses of the spread of disease s have pointed to the conditions that allow particular diseases to develop and spread.
When cholera broke out in London, England, in , Snow represented the deaths per household on a street map. Using the map, he was able to trace the source of the outbreak to a water pump on the corner of Broad Street and Cambridge Street. The geographic perspective helped identify the source of the problem the water from a specific pump and allowed people to avoid the disease avoiding water from that pump. Investigations of the geographic impact of human activities have advanced understanding of the role of humans in transforming the surface of Earth, exposing the spatial extent of threats such as water pollution by manmade waste.
For example, geographic study has shown that a large mass of tiny pieces of plastic currently floating in the Pacific Ocean is approximately the size of Texas. Because the study of geography is so broad, the discipline is typically divided into specialties. At the broadest level, geography is divided into physical geography , human geography , geographic techniques , and regional geography.
Physical Geography The natural environment is the primary concern of physical geographers, although many physical geographers also look at how humans have altered natural systems. Some disciplines within physical geography include geomorphology , glaciology , pedology , hydrology , climatology , biogeography , and oceanography. Geomorphology is the study of landforms and the processes that shape them. Geomorphologists investigate the nature and impact of wind , ice, rivers, erosion , earthquake s, volcano es, living things, and other forces that shape and change the surface of the Earth.
Glaciologists document the properties and distribution of glaciers and iceberg s.
Data collected by glaciologists has demonstrated the retreat of Arctic and Antarctic ice in the past century. Pedologists study soil and how it is created, changed, and classified. Soil studies are used by a variety of professions, from farmer s analyzing field fertility to engineer s investigating the suitability of different areas for building heavy structures. Hydrologists study the water cycle through rainfall into streams, lake s, the soil, and underground aquifer s. Hydrologists provide insight s that are critical to building or removing dam s, designing irrigation systems, monitoring water quality , tracking drought conditions, and predicting flood risk.
For example, climatologists make predictions about El Nino , a cyclical weather phenomenon of warm surface temperature s in the Pacific Ocean. They analyze the dramatic worldwide climate changes caused by El Nino, such as flooding in Peru, drought in Australia, and, in the United States, the oddities of heavy Texas rains or an unseasonably warm Minnesota winter. Biogeographers study the impact of the environment on the distribution of plants and animals. For example, a biogeographer might document all the places in the world inhabited by a certain spider species, and what those places have in common.
Observation of ocean tide s and current s constituted some of the first oceanographic investigations. For example, 18th-century mariner s figured out the geography of the Gulf Stream , a massive current flowing like a river through the Atlantic Ocean.
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The discovery and tracking of the Gulf Stream helped communications and travel between Europe and the Americas. Today, oceanographers conduct research on the impacts of water pollution, track tsunami s, design offshore oil rig s, investigate underwater eruptions of lava , and study all types of marine organisms from toxic algae to friendly dolphins. They also might look at how consumer s in China and India adjust to new technology and market s, and how markets respond to such a huge consumer base. 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.
Key Concepts Political Geography by Alison Mountz Carl Dahlman Carolyn
These include government s, religious organizations, and trade partnerships. The boundaries of these groups constantly change. 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.
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- Human geography.
Human geographers who study geographic patterns and processes in past times are part of the subdiscipline of historical geography. Those who study how people understand maps and geographic space belong to a subdiscipline known as behavioral geography. Many human geographers interested in the relationship between humans and the environment work in the subdisciplines of cultural geography and political geography.
Cultural geographers study how the natural environment influences the development of human culture, such as how the climate affects the agricultural practices of a region. Political geographers study the impact of political circumstances on interactions between people and their environment, as well as environmental conflicts, such as disputes over water rights. Some human geographers focus on the connection between human health and geography. For example, health geographers create maps that track the location and spread of specific diseases.
They analyze the geographic disparities of health-care access. They are very interested in the impact of the environment on human health, especially the effects of environmental hazards such as radiation , lead poisoning, or water pollution.
Geographic Techniques Specialists in geographic techniques study the ways in which geographic processes can be analyzed and represented using different methods and technologies. Mapmaking, or cartography , is perhaps the most basic of these. Cartography has been instrumental to geography throughout the ages. As early as 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.
Department of Defense communicate with receivers on the ground called global positioning system GPS units to instantly identify exact locations on Earth. Today, almost the entire surface of Earth has been mapped with remarkable accuracy, and much of this information is available instantly on the internet.
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Technological developments during the past 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. Virginie Mamadouh is Associate Professor of Political and Cultural Geography at the University of Amsterdam and an editor of the international academic journal Geopolitics. Her research interests are in European geopolitics, new media and multilingualism. Agnew, , and Urban Europe: Fifty tales of the city with A. Anna J. Her research focuses on theories of space, politics, and subjectivity.
Recently she has developed ideas of topology in geography by engaging the work of Lacan, Deleuze, and Agamben. Her research on Islam, state, and society in Turkey has been funded by the National Science Foundation. Her research interests are in feminist, postcolonial, cultural and political geographies. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username.
Skip to Main Content. Secor Joanne Sharp. This book provides useful context not just for 'tradition' political geography modules, but also those examining broader issues of power, resistance and social movements. Vital for introducing basic concepts and terminology in a clear and concise fashion.
I found the book to be very useful in a supplemental capacity, full of information that would be useful for an undergraduate or early graduate student. However, the format of the book makes it difficult to envision as a required or even recommended reading. A comprehensive reader for my political geography course. Chapter One. Chapter Two.
AP Human Geography - Unit 4 Review (Political Organization) | Fiveable
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