Geographer

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A geographer is a person whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.

Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography. Geographers do not study only the details of the natural environment or human society, but they also study the reciprocal relationship between these two. For example, they study how the natural environment contributes to the human society and how the human society affects the natural environment.

In particular, physical geographers study the natural environment while human geographers study human society. Modern geographers are the primary practitioners of the GIS (geographic information system), who are often employed by local, state, and federal government agencies as well as in the private sector by environmental and engineering firms.

The paintings by Johannes Vermeer titled The Geographer and The Astronomer are both thought to represent the growing influence and rise in prominence of scientific enquiry in Europe at the time of their painting in 1668–69.

Famous Geographers[edit]

Eratosthenes[edit]

The ancient Greeks discovered much of the knowledge that formed the basis for later scientific and geographical discoveries. Eratosthenes of Cyrene (born circa 276 BCE in Cyrene, Libya; died circa 194 BCE in Alexandria, Egypt) was a Greek writer, poet, astronomer, and geographer who created the first known measurements of the Earth's circumference.[1] Eratosthenes used the angles at which the sun's rays fall on the ground to calculate the curvature of the Earth's surface, which he then used to determine the full horizontal length around the Earth. According to the works of Aristotle, other scientists had estimated the circumference of the Earth prior to Eratosthenes's discovery, but the records of the specific methods and calculations that they used did not survive.[2]

Hipparchus[edit]

Hipparchus (born in Nicaea, Bithynia [now Iznik, Turkey]; believed to have died after 127 BC in Rhodes) is best known for using astronomical studies to predict the movements and positions of celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, and stars. [3] He discovered the equinoxes (autumnal equinox and spring equinox) and calculated the length of the solar year.[4] Hipparchus was also the first to correctly determine the distance between the earth and the moon (which he believed was equal to 63 times the earth's radius, although it is actually equal to 60 times the earth's radius). Building upon this knowledge, he developed the parallax theory to explain the apparent displacement of celestial bodies relative to the observer's vantage point.[5][6]

Alexander von Humboldt[edit]

Alexander von Humboldt (born Sept. 14, 1769 in Berlin; died May 6, 1859) was a German geographer, naturalist and explorer who made major contributions to the field of biogeography by producing break-through research on the connection between the climate of a region and the plant life growing there.[7] The records he kept of his travels provided highly valuable data on the geography of Central Asia, which was not very well understood by Europeans at the time. Furthermore, with the help of Sir Edward Sabine, he was able to prove that the origin of storms is extraterrestrial by showing the relationship between magnetic storms on earth with the changing activity of sun spots.[8] In his latter years, Humboldt published a multi-volume series of books called Kosmos, wherein he described the structure of the universe as it was then understood. Initially, he published four volumes, which were received with great success and were subsequently translated into almost every European language. Humboldt began work on the fifth volume, but died before it was completed (he was ninety years old).[9] The Humboldt Current (also known as the Peru Current), which was named after him, is an ocean current that holds warm air off a 600-mile coastal region between Peru and Chile in South America, thereby keeping the climate cool. Humboldt had explored this region in 1802, and it is now known for containing the world's richest marine ecosystem.[10]

Alfred Russel (A.R.) Wallace[edit]

Alfred Russel Wallace, also known as A.R. Wallace, (born on Jan. 8, 1823, in Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales; died on Nov. 7, 1913, in Broadstone, Dorset, England), was a British naturalist, geographer, and social critic who is most known for formulating the theory of evolution by natural selection before Charles Darwin published his famous work on the same subject, The Origin of Species.[11] An avid traveler and explorer, Wallace became both rich and famous from the work he did identifying new animal species in Indonesia and the Amazon region. Importantly, Wallace discovered and defined the concept of "speciation," which he discussed in a paper he published around 1865 describing his research on butterflies. Speciation refers to defining animal species based on their interbreeding capabilities; animals within the same species can breed with each other, but not with animals from other species. In this way, individual species can be identified for scientific classification purposes.[12]

Richard Francis Burton[edit]

Sir Richard Francis Burton (born on March 19, 1821, in Torquay, Devonshire, England; died on October 20, 1890, in Trieste, Austria-Hungary [now in Italy]) is known for being the first European to discover Lake Tanganyika in east Africa and for gaining access to previously forbidden Muslim cities.[13]

Areas of study[edit]

There are three major fields of study, which are further subdivided:

The National Geographic Society identifies five broad key themes for geographers:

  • location
  • place
  • human-environment interaction
  • movement
  • regions[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Eratosthenes" (Web article). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. January 25, 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Eratosthenes" (Web article). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. January 25, 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Overview: Hipparchus" (Web.). www.oxfordreference.com. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  4. ^ Collins English Dictionary. "Hipparchus" (Web.). www.collinsdictionary.com. HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Overview: Hipparchus" (Web.). www.oxfordreference.com. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  6. ^ Jones, Alexander Raymond (August 17, 2018). "Hipparchus" (Web.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  7. ^ Kellner, Charlotte L. (May 4, 2018). "Alexander von Humboldt" (Web article). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  8. ^ Kellner, Charlotte L. (September 11, 2018). "Alexander von Humboldt" (Web article). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  9. ^ Kellner, Charlotte L. (September 11, 2018). "Alexander von Humboldt" (Web article). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  10. ^ Kiger, Patrick J. (April 12, 2018). "Who Was Alexander von Humboldt and What Is the Humboldt Current?" (Web.). science.howstuffworks.com. HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  11. ^ Camerini, Jane R. (n.d.). "Alfred Russel Wallace" (Web article.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  12. ^ Garrity, Lyn (January 22, 2009). "Out of Darwin's Shadow" (Web article.). www.smithsonianmag.com. Smithsonian.com. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  13. ^ Brodie, Fawn McKay (March 12, 2018). "Sir Richard Burton" (Web article.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Geography Education @". Nationalgeographic.com. 2008-10-24. Archived from the original on 2010-02-07. Retrieved 2013-07-16.