What is Geography. What are its main branches.


Geography is the study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere, and of human activity as it affects and is affected by these, including the distribution of populations and resources and political and economic activities. In other words Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. They also examine how human culture interacts with the natural environment and the way that locations and places can have an impact on people. Geography seeks to understand where things are found, why they are there, and how they develop and change over time.

There are basically two main branches of Geography;

  • Physical Geography:

Physical Geography is divided into various other sub-branches to make things understand easily:

1. Hydrology

Hydrology is the branch of physical geography which is concerned with the total amounts of water which is constantly moving and also the quality of the water whether is good or bad. It also studies the water accumulating on the land surface and is notified as the hydrological cycle of our environment. Hydrology consists of the rivers, glaciers, lakes, sea, aquifers and studies the dynamics which are predominantly involved in these water bodies. Engineering is an important part for studying this branch as the hydro dynamics are largely clumsy and need expertise to have a look at. The study shows that the earth science side has helped with the research work and study of this field work. Like all the other branches of physical geography, hydrology also has some sub-fields which helps in examining the different aspects, they are: Eco hydrology and limnology.

2. Geomorphology

Geomorphology is the subject which deals with the study of the surface of the earth. It also studies all the processes which helped in shaping the earth’s surface, the way it is now. It helps in defining a linear process which is occurring in the present and also which have occurred in the past. Geomorphology also has two sub-fields which are fluvial geomorphology and desert geomorphology. These fields deals with the study of some specific landforms which consists in various environments. One of the common thing between these fields is that the fact that these are all united by the core processes which shaped them, which was mainly tectonic or climatic processes. The various dynamics and landform history is studied by geomorphology and also predicts the changes which re going to appear because of the combination of field observation, some numeric modeling and physical experiment. Some of the topics of geomorphology also touches the fields of soil science experimentation.

3. Glaciology

The study of ice sheets and glaciers or anything which is related to cryosphere or commonly known as ice is called glaciology. Ice sheets are grouped under the name of continental glaciers and glaciers as alpine glaciers. The research work done in this subject is moreover same but the dynamics of both ice sheets as well as glaciers are differently oriented. The ice sheets tends to be shaped by the interaction between the present climate and its changes and the ice sheets, on the other hand the glaciers are concerned with the impact that they have with the landscape. There are various other sub-fields which are there in glaciology, snow hydrology and glacial geology. These two fields also examine the different different processes and factors of the glaciers and ice-sheets.

4. Biogeography

Biogeography deals with the science of various geographic patterns which classifies the species distribution as well as the various patterns of it. Alfred Russell Wallace is known as the father of this fields study. He approached this field with a descriptive and outlook approach and have made some good observations. Evolution and plate tectonics have played a very significant part in the founding of the main observations for this field. These have become the main stimulus for biogeography. There are five main sub fields of biogeography: zoogeography, phytogeography, paleobiography, island biography and phylogeopgraphy.

5. Meteorology

It is the interdisciplinary study of our atmosphere which focuses mainly on the weather processes having very short term forecasting. It is one of the most scientific study of the physical geography. The studies and conclusions derived, dates back to many years and decades. The 18th century is considered a significant leap in the study of meteorology as amazing phenomenon and events were observed during this time. These are usually illuminated events.

6. Climatology

Climatology is the study of climatic conditions which are also called as the weather conditions which are studied and averaged over a long period of time. This subject covers both the nature of macro or global and micro or local climatic conditions. The anthropogenic as well as natural influences which occur on them are also studied. The sub fields which divide different parts of this subject are, tropical cyclone rainfall climatology as well as the paleoclimatology. The climatic study differences are divide on the basis of the various different regions.

7. Pedology

Pedology is the study of soil science in our natural environment. It signifies the major two branches of the soil science. Edaphology is the other branches of the soil science study. Pedology is one of the important study subjects in the physical geography, and emphasizes on the interactions that are made between the climate, which comprises of the water, air and temperature, soil life, which comprises of the plants, animals and micro-organisms, and the minerals which are present in the soils. The studies mainly reveals effects as well as the position of the soil landscape and is termed as laterization.

These were the important sub-branches which together holds the physical geography. Some other branches which are also there are, Coastal geography, Oceanography, Paleography, landscape ecology and the environmental geography.

8. Palaeogeography:

Palaeogeography is the study of the distribution of the continents through geologic time through examining the preserved material in the stratigraphic record.

9. Coastal Geography:

Coastal geography is the study of the constantly changing region between the ocean and the land, incorporating both the physical geography (i.e. coastal geomorphology, geology and oceanography) and the human geography(sociology and history) of the coast.

10. Oceanography:

This is a branch of geoscience that deals with the physical and biological properties and phenomena of the sea.

11. Geomatics:

The branch of geo science that deals with the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data relating to the earth’s surface.

12. Environmental Geography:

Environmental geography focuses on the physical environment and its effect on humans.

  • Human Geography:

Human geography focuses on the role that human play in the world.  Human geography focuses on understand processes about human populations, settlements, economics, transportation, recreation and tourism, religion, politics, social and cultural traditions, human migration, agriculture, and urbanization.

1. Economic Geography

Geographers under this branch normally study the manner in which products are usually produced and consequently distributed in their respective niche markets. In addition to this, they also study the way in which wealth is distributed in various regions over the planet. In general, the structures which control and influence the conditions of the economy are usually dissected microscopically here.

2. Population Geography

In most cases, scholars usually equate population geography to demography even though this is usually not the case. This is mainly owing to the reason that population geography is deeper than the study of the patterns of a group of people with regards to birth, marriage & death as is the case with demography. Geographers who are involved in this discipline normally study the population of regions in much more detail. This means that they normally look at the manner in which the population of a given area is distributed, how the people there migrate, and the rate as well as pattern of the population growth.

3. Medical Geography

In this branch, geographers normally study the patterns in which particular diseases spread. This means that pandemics & epidemics are usually studied here as well as common illnesses, general health care and death as well.

4. Military Geography

Geographers who practice this discipline normally conduct their research and studies within the military fraternity. They mainly study the manner in which military facilities are distributed as well as the best ways in which the troops can be able to utilize the facilities that they have at their disposal. In addition to this, the branch also covers the techniques that can be implemented in developing solutions to the common problems that military units commonly face.

5. Political Geography

This is a very interesting branch of geography that is involved in the investigation of every aspect of politics. This is with regards to the boundaries of a country, the states it has and the development strategies that it has in place. In addition, there are other details which are also covered such as: Voting, sub-divisions, diplomacy and international organizations.

6. Transportation Geography

Geographers who are involved in this branch of geography are usually involved in the research of the available networks for transportation. This includes both the public ones as well as private ones. Once the networks have been studied, ways in which to maximize their use in the movement of people and products can be explored.

7. Urban Geography

With the development of urban cities worldwide, the branch of urban geography came into play since it enables researchers to study these trends much more effectively. In addition to this, these geographers are able to investigate potential locations that are suitable fore development for the tiniest of villages to sprout into the desired huge cities.

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