Geographic Phenomenon

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A phenomenon is a fact, occurrence, or circumstance observed or observable within nature [1]. Therefore, a geographic phenomenon is a phenomenon that requires two descriptors: "what is present, and where it is." [2] The phenomenon is how populations, features, and measurements often tend to be in close proximity to similar populations, features, and measurements. The geographic phenomenon also extends to the fact that the presence of a given population, feature, or measurement may tend to be in close proximity to some other population, feature, or measurement. One example of phenomena is the spatial distribution of volcanoes surrounding the Pacific Ocean. The distribution is so particular that it has been named the "ring of fire." The location of rivers or streams at the bottom of canyons is another example of local phenomenon. This can be extended to the existence of more dense vegetation and life near water at the bottom of the cayon.[3]

Geographic information systems allow these phenomena to be depicted using vector (as points, lines, and polygons) and raster data. This data can then be used to analyze the phenomenon to gain better understanding and insight as to why or how it occurred. There is always a degree of uncertainty when working with a geographic phenomenon. [4] This uncertainty is defined as the difference between a real geographic phenomenon and the user’s understanding of the geographic phenomenon. A user may view certain relationships occurring and often draw cause-affect conclusions. The actual cause-effect relationship may be different and the perceived geographic pattern may have been misunderstood. As we narrow the gap between our own understanding and what is real, we will better predict geographic phenomenon

Applying the concept of scale is inevitably required for the geographer to understand when analyzing geographic phenomenon. Phenomena at various scales will likely appear different and the conclusions made from the data can also vary[5]. Parameters of the phenomena on a physical and temporal scale must be taken in consideration as questions about the phenomena are put forward. As the concept of scale is applied, better predictions can be made.


  1. Definition of Phenomenon
  5. Cartography: Thematic Map Design, Dent (2009)
Authors Bryce Albrecht, Bryan Wilson
Editors David Burchfield, Jon Peaden
BoK Topics CF2
311 Weeks 2
Tags description, Scale