Topic 1: Geography: Its Nature and Perspectives

Absolute vs. Relative vs. Cognitive Distance
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Terms in this set (70)
Absolute Distance: an exact measure of the separation between two points using a standard measure (e.g. inches, meters, miles)
Relative Distance: when less precise but often meaningful measures are used to describe separation between two points
*The most common relative distance measure is time, or how long it takes to get from point A to point B, which is typically relative to a person's mode of transportation
Cognitive Distance: based on one's perceived separation between two (or more) points. For example, the distance TO a location may be perceived as longer than the distance FROM the same location.
Absolute location is the precise location of any object or place on the Earth's surface as determined by a standard grid or coordinate system.

The most common system used to determine absolute location is latitude and longitude.

Relative location describes a place's location in terms of its relationship to places around it.

It is more common in everyday language.
* Refers to the size of the unit under investigation, such as cities, counties, states, or countries.
* Like simpification, completely depends on the purpose of the map.
* Level also depends on the data geographers have access to.
* If a geographer investigates population density with data at the state level, his or her map will dramatically differ from a geographer who as density data at the county level.
Azimuthal projections are planar projections, meaning they are formed when a flat piece of paper is placed on top of the globe and a light source projects the surrounding areas onto the map.
Typically, the North Pole or the South Pole is oriented at the center of the map, giving an impression of looking up or down at the earth.
Something that inhibits a phenomena from spreading across space.
Physical barriers are objects in the environment that prohibit interaction from taking place; includes features like mountain ranges, highways (when interaction occurs on foot), rivers, and so on.
Sociocultural factors prohibit diffusion when a person's beliefs, culture, or place in society prohibit interaction with certain people or places.
Psychological barriers are generally fear or ignorance that keep individuals from interaction with certain people or places and thereby prohibit the spread of a particular phenomenon.
A type of thematic map that transforms space such that the political unit (say, state or country) with the greatest value for some type of data is represented by the largest relative area, and all other polygons are represented proportionally to that largest polygon.
Can be powerful for illustrating comparative patterns. For example, a cartogram of electoral votes in the United States would make some of the larger states by area (Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas) very small, whereas some smaller states with more electoral votes would expand, showing a more accurate picture of each state's influence on the political process.
Also called map scale, refers to the ratio between distance on a map and the actual distance on the earth's surface.
Ratio remans constant despite units; for example, a map scale 1:200 means that 1 unit on the map (inches, feet, miles, etc.) is equivalent to 200 of that same unit in reality.
On small-scale maps, ratio between map units and groun dunits is small, and map represents a larger piece of the earth's surface.
On large-scale maps, ratio between map units and ground units is large, meaning map represents a relatively small piece of the earth's surface.
Choropleth MapsA thematic map that uses colors or tonal shadings to represent categories of data for given geographic areas; countries, states, or counties most commonly use polygons. A map of population density by county in the United States might use five shades of green to classify density values.Cognitive MapsAn image of a portion of Earth's surface that an individual creates in his or her mind. Cognitive maps can include knowledge of actual locations and relationships among locations, as well as personal perceptions and preferences of particular places.Cognitive/Perceptual/Vernacular Regions* Describe how people informally organize places in their mind * Even though formed by individuals, usually are shared between people because of culturally shared beliefs * Boundaries are imprecise, vague, or variable; for example: most people in the U.S. would draw similar boundaries around the "Deep South"ConcentrationWhen spatial distributions of objects or features appear in close proximity to one another, they are said to be concentrated. This is also called a cluster.Conformal ProjectionA map that maintains the correct shape of features on the Earth (small areas) but distorts their relative size to one another. In many conformal projections, such as the Mercator Projection, compass direction is preserved, making them useful for navigation purposes.ConnectivityThe degree of economic, social, cultural, or political connection between two places, measuring all these means of connection and communication between places. Virtually synonymous with relative distance as some places are highly connected to one another yet separated by significant differences.Contagious Expansion Diffusion-Describes diffusion resulting from direct contact with an individual -All infectious diseases, such as AIDS, are spread by contagious diffusionDensityThe amount of a particular feature within a given area. This is not the same thing as dense, which implies a cluster. For example, population density is the number of people within a given area.DiffusionThe ways in which phenomena, such as technological innovations, cultural trends, or outbreaks of disease, travel over space. Two main processes spread phenomena across space: expansion diffusion and relocation diffusion. * In relocation diffusion, physical movement leads to spread, usually as a result of migration; number of adopters is relatively small. * With expansion diffusion, interaction leads to spread, and number of adopters grows rapidly before stabilizing.Distance DecayThe pattern of diminishing likelihood of interaction with a place with increasing distance from that place. Example: the amount of people who shop at a particular grocery store, live or work close by. Few customers of that store live far from its location. Different activities have different distance decay curves; that is, people travel short distances for everyday goods like milk and bread but travel farther to attend special events such as major concerts or professional sporting events.Distance Decay Curve-Line graph with "Interaction Intensity" on the vertical axis and the "Distance" on the horizontal axis -Interaction is very strong with a short distance -Interaction is minimal with a long distanceDistortionA change in the shape, size, or position of a place when it is shown on a map. All flat maps are distorted as a result of projecting a three-dimensional surface onto a two-dimensional surface. The only accurate representation of the earth's surface is a globe. Some projections distort certain features in favor of preserving others. Generally, the major features that get distorted or preserved are shape, area, and direction.Distribution ConceptsConcepts that are used to understand how certain objects, features, and phenomena are organized in space. Concentration, density, dispersion, and pattern are all distribution concepts.Dot Density MapsUse points to represent particular values; for example, cropland harvested where each dot represents 1,000 bushels of corn. Value comes from the ability to facilitate perception of spatial pattern; n example of corn cropland harvested, an obvious spatial pattern would emerge in the Midwest. The disadvantage is that data that do not meet the threshold (e.g., only 999 bushels of corn harvested in a particular area) do not appear on the map.Earth's GraticuleThe imaginary grid of lines running east-west and north-south that was first devised by Hipparchus in the second century BCE.Environmental Geography-Intersection of Human and Physical Geography -Environmental geographers come from almost every academic discipline and frequently occupy prominent positions at the forefront of debates regarding anthropogenic (human-induced) environmental change, conservation, planning, and sustainability. -Concerned with anything from the history of a given landscape and the effects of pollution on impoverished neighborhoods, to the creation of nature reserves for endangered species.Equal-Area ProjectionCartographers using or making these types of projections are interested in the preservation of an area; in other words, shapes or directions are distorted but sizes of landmasses are correct in relation to each other.First Law of Geography/Friction of Distance*Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more closely related than far things. *"The friction of distance" means that the farther away something is, the less likely someone is to interact with it.Formal Regions-Sometimes called thematic regions because they are defined by one or more variable or theme. -Group strength varies throughout the region; some places represent the theme defining the region more strongly than others. -Because of varying membership strength, boundaries are imprecise or vague. A clear line does not separate one area from another. change between regions tends to be gradual. -Examples include climate regions, language, religion, or any other theme that does not correspond to administrative boundaries.Functional Regions-The boundaries are drawn around an interaction region: every functional region has a node that people interact with; the spatial pattern of that interaction defines the region. -For example, commuters to a particular city, newspaper circulation, or branch operations with a major bank.GeneralizationAveraging over details; in a cartographic context, generalization results from scaling changes. Small-scale maps have high generalization, or less detail, but show large pieces of the earth's surface area. Large-scale maps have less generalization, or more detail, but show smaller pieces of the earth's surface. A map of the entire United States (small scale) will not show the small towns and villages that would appear on a map of a local area (large scale).Geographic Information System (GIS)A software program that allows geographers to map, analyze, and model spatial data. Uses thematic layers, consisting of individual maps that contain specific features such as roads, stream networks, or elevation contours.Global Positioning System (GPS)An integrated network of satellites that orbit the earth, broadcasting location information, in terms of latitude and longitude, to handheld receivers on the earth's surface.Gravity ModelFirst described in the 1850s, this model is based on Isaac Newton's law of universal gravitation. The interaction between places i and j equals the population of place i times the population of place j, divided by the distance between places i and j, squared. An important implication is that large cities may still have extensive interactions despite being separated by great distances; for example, New York and Los Angeles.Hierarchical Expansion DiffusionHierarchical diffusion describes spread first to major nodes and then down a hierarchy. Fashion trends typically spread hierarchically by first appearing in major fashion nodes such as London, Milan, and Paris, and then spread from there. Within the major nodes, a phenomenon spreads, typically, by contagious diffusion (e.g., a fashion trend spreading within Milan).Human GeographyThe field of geography that looks at variations in human behavior over space. Human geographers look at human characteristics including population, economy, agriculture, urbanization, culture, political systems, and how those characteristics vary depending on where you are on the earth's surface. Human geographers also look at the complicated relationship between humans and their environment.Human Geography ModelIsoline MapsMaps that use lines to represent qualities of equal value. Most common example is a topographic map (see card 68) where each line represents a constant elevation. Lines spaced close together indicate a rapidly changing value, whereas lines far apart indicate little change over space. Isolines can be used to show other values that vary continuously over space, such as temperature or population density.LandscapeThe observable elements of a particular space. Landscapes embody the historic relationship between a person or culture and their natural environment; for example, "reading the cultural landscape" can provide powerful evidence of a society's character and experiences.Latitude and Longitude*Lines of longitude, or meridians, originate at the prime meridian, which passes through Greenwich, England, and ends at the International Date Line; all lines of longitude meet at the poles. *Lines of latitude run parallel to one another and are often called parallels. They originate at the equator and terminate at the poles. *Together, they allow for precise determination of location on the surface of the earth.Maps-Pictorial Models of reality that use symbols to convey meaning. Power comes in their ability to make something nonspatial (population rates), spatial, thereby facilitating the perception of spatial relationships. -The only way to see the entire earth's surface at once.Mercator ProjectionPreserves accurate compass direction but distorts area of landmasses relative to each other. Landmasses become increasingly distorted, or large in size, at high latitude near the North & South Poles. Originally created by projecting the earth's features onto a cylinder (a cylindrical projection), which results in lines of latitude becoming parallel rather than intersecting, leading to tremendous distortion at the poles.NetworkThe areal pattern of connections between places. Some networks describe literal connections between places such as the connections between subway stops on a metro map. However, some are less literal; for example, many emerging Internet sites such as Facebook are social networks, describing all of the links between a group of "friends."PatternA distribution concept that conveys how objects, features, or phenomena are spatially situated in relation to one another. For example, some features can have a linear pattern, some centralized, some triangular, etc.Peters Projection-A cylindrical projection that retains accurate sizes of all the world's landmasses. -Reveals how large the landmasses near the equator actually are. -Often viewed as a political statement, an attempt to focus attention on the world's poorest countries.Physical GeographyPhysical geographers study spatial characteristics of the earth's physical and biological systems. Many natural scientists, including meteorologists, climatologists, ecologists, oceanographers, geologists, soil scientists, and hydrologists, study physical geography. Through the understanding of the spatial variability of the phenomena under investigation, each of these types of scientists gains insight into why certain phenomena behave the way they do in certain places.Preference Maps-Show people's ideas about environment, social, or economic quality of life in various places. In general, most Americans rate their home state highly, and most show preferences for coastal areas, especially California and the East Coast.Preference Map of the United StatesDisplays individual preferences for certain places within the United States.ProjectionRefers to the process by which the three-dimensional surface of Earth is transferred to a two-dimensional map. Traditionally, maps were made by placing a light source (a candle or bulb) inside of a translucent globe and then projecting the globe's features onto another shape (usually a piece of paper) surrounding it. Currently produced through numerous different, complicated, mathematical equations.Proportional Symbols Map*Size of the chosen symbols (e.g., circle, triangle, or flow line) indicates relative magnitude of some value for a given geographic region. *Flow lines often used to show movement of goods or people over space; lines get relatively thinner and thicker as values shrink or expand.Reference MapsReference maps are used to navigate between places and include topographic maps, atlases, road maps, and other navigational maps.RegionOne of the fundamental units of analysis in human geography. Regionalizing allows geographers to group pieces of the earth's surface together according to certain similarities. Regions do not exist as well-defined units in the landscape; instead, they are conceptual constructions that geographers use for convenience and comparison.Regional GeographyRegional geography is the study of regions. Regions vary in size; a region may be an entire continent, for example, North America, or a smaller area, such as southern Florida. Regional geographers, no matter the size of the region under study, investigate the unique characteristics, patterns, and processes existent within that place.Remote SensingThe process of capturing images of Earth's surface from airborne platforms such as satellites or airplanes. Images can be digital or analog photographs and data can be collected from several bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.ResolutionRefers to a map's smallest discernible unit; basically it is the smallest thing visible on a map. If an object has to be 330 feet (100 meters) long in order to show up on a map, then that map's resolution is 330 feet (100 meters).Robinson ProjectionAn example of an attempt to balance projection errors. Does not maintain accurate area, shape, distance, or direction, but minimizes errors in each. Provides an aesthetically pleasing balance leading to its frequent use by cartographers at organizations such as the National Geographic Society (which is where the projection was made).ScaleGeographic scale is a general concept that refers to a conceptual hierarchy of spaces, from small to alrge, that reflect actual levels of organization in the real world. A characteristic scale in human geography, from small to large, is the increase in size from the neighborhood, to the urban area, to the metropolitan area, and finally to the region. Geographers seek to understand how processes occurring at one scale may affect activities at other scales.Sense of PlacePeople's attitudes or feelings of attachment (positive or negative) toward a particular locale. This is developed as a result of experiences and memories associated with a particular location.SimplificationThe process that determines the important characteristics of the data, the retention of these important characteristics, and the elimination of the unwanted details. When reducing a map, each map item will occupy a proportionally larger amount of space. So, simplification is necessary to ensure legibility and truthful portrayal.Site vs. SituationSite refers to the physical and cultural features of a place, independent of other places around it. Situation describes a place's relationship to other places around it. For example, New Orleans' site is poor; its location is below sea level, meaning big rain events lead to significant problems. However, its location on the Mississippi River delta makes its situation in relation to the rest of the United States very important.Spatial AssociationDescribes the distribution of two or more features and how they do or do not correspond to one another. Powerful concept in spatial analysis as it allows geographers to understand why certain spatial patterns exist. For example, the mapping of type 2 diabetes and socioeconomic status (SES) reveals a strong spatial association: the states with the highest rates of type 2 diabetes also, typically, have lowest SES.Spatial PerspectiveAn intellectual framework that allows geographers to look at the earth in terms of the relationships between various places. Geographers look at the spatial distribution of different types of phenomena and ask why and how certain phenomena come to occur in certain places. Some major questions of geographers are: How do places interact ecomonically, socially, and culturally? Why do some places have more in common than others? How are social phenomena conveyed over time and space?Stimulus Expansion DiffusionDescribes the pattern by which a concept is diffused but not in the same form as in original contact. For example, some Native American groups' exposure to written language stimulated them to develop their own written languages systems that differed from the language they were exposed to.Systematic GeographyThe study of the earth's integrated systems as a whole, instead of focusing on particular phenomena in a single place. This approach allows geographers to apply their knowledge of a specific spatial process broadly beyond unique places to other areas across the globe.Thematic MapsThematic maps display one or more variables across a specific space, such as population variables, voting patterns, or economic welfare. Many ways to display thematic data: some common methods include choropleth maps (card 11), proportional symbols maps (card 50), isoline maps (card 38), and cartograms (card 8).Time-Distance DecayThe idea that the longer it takes for something to spread or move over space, the less likelihood of interaction with or spread of that phenomena. Essentially a description of time as a barrier to spatial diffusion.Time-Space ConvergenceThe idea that with increasing transportation and communications technology, absolute distance between certain places is, in effect, shrinking. For example, increased transportation technology has "shrunk" the distance between New York City and London; it used to take days, even weeks, to cross the Atlantic by boat; it now takes only half a day by plane. Increased communications technology allows places to communicate instantaneously with each other, which, in effect, completely negates distance's effect on interaction (via voice or text communication).Topographic Map Showing Elevation ContoursLines close together represent a more rapid change in elevation. Lines farther apart represent a more gradual change in elevation.VisualizationsExist digitally and use sophisticated software to create dynamic computer maps, some of which are three-dimensional or interactive. Some allow geographers to investigate features that cannot be seen with the naked eye; others use models to show how landscapes change over time. In some, people can walk through, or fly over, landscapes.