Methods And Techniques Of Geography

Each branch of systematized knowledge has certain methods / tools and techniques on which it depends to further its basic objectives.


Geography too has its tools, techniques and methods. Important among them are globes, maps, diagrams, relief models and spatial analytical methods.

  • Cartography is concerned with preparation of maps and diagrams to show distribution of geographical phenomena.

Important methods in geography are deductive and inductive in nature. Various statistical
techniques and models are used for regional analysis and to understand spatial distribution and interaction.



Most of us are fascinated with maps. “Cartography” is the study and practice of making maps and diagrams. It represents the earth with maps and abstract symbols. Maps have traditionally been made using pen, ink and paper, but computers have revolutionized cartography and with GIS methods one can prepare maps and diagrams with greater choice and efficiency.

Spatial data is obtained from measurement and other published sources and can be stored in a database, from which it can be extracted for a variety of purposes.

Current trends in this field are moving away from drawing with ink or paper type methods of map making towards the creation of increasingly dynamic, interactive maps that can be manipulated digitally.

Most commercial quality maps are now made with map making software that falls into one of three main types –

  • Computer aided data management (CAD);
  • Geographic Information Systems (G.I.S);
  • Global Positioning systems (GPS).

Cartography has grown from a collection of drafting techniquies into an actual science. Cartographers must understand which symbols convey information about the Earth most effectively, and make such maps that will encourage everyone to use the maps to find places or use it for their daily work. A cartographer must learn geodesy and fairly advanced mathematics to understand how the shape of the Earth affects the distortion of map symbols projected onto a flat surface for viewing.

“Geographic Information Systems” deals with the storage of information about the Earth for automatic retrieval by a computer in an accurate manner. In addition to other sub disciplines of geography, GIS specialists must understand computer science and database systems.

Maps have traditionally been used to explore the Earth and to exploit its resources. GIS technology, as an expansion of Cartographic science, has enhanced the efficiency and analytic power of traditional mapping.

Now, as the scientific community recognizes the environmental consequences of human activities, GIS technology is becoming an essential tool in the effort to understand the process of global change.

Various map and satellite information sources can combine in ways that recreate the interactions of complex natural systems. Such visualization can help to predict what will happen to an area if it is repeatedly flooded, or what changes are expected if a particular industry is located or developed in an area.

Next to Survey of India, inherited from the British Ordinance Survey, the NATMO is a premier organization for mapping in India. Its maps of one million series are well known. The organization of the Cartographic Unit in 1960’s at the French Institute, Pondicherry, brought a significant impact on the development of Geography in India. Its publication of Vegetation and Soil maps at the scale of 1:100000 were very well received for their cartographic appreciation and resource mapping. This Unit was upgraded in 1995 as a Geomatics Laboratory with an emphasis of computer cartography and GIS.


Quantitative Methods In Geography

These aspects of geographical techniques deal with numerical methods most commonly found in geography. In addition to spatial analysis, you are likely to find methods like cluster analysis, discriminant analysis in geographic studies. These statistical techniques are introduced to you in later chapters and you will find that when you undertake the local area study, you yourself will see how useful these methods are in finding patterns and identifying relationships between space and the activities that are performed in them.


Regional Science Method

In the 1950’s, the regional science movement arose led by Walter Isard. This provided a more quantitative and analytical base to geographical questions, in contrast to the more qualitative tendencies of traditional geography.

Regional Science comprises the body of knowledge in which like regional economics, resource management, location theory, urban and regional planning, transportation and communication, human geography, population distribution, landscape ecology, and environmental quality are examined for regional development.



Bibliography : NIOS – Geography

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