Glossary (Version 8.4)

A digital image captured by satellites above the earth’s surface, for example, those combined in Google Earth. It can be processed to measure-specific aspects of the land surface, for example, areas of water or farmland.

  • A way that geographical phenomena and problems can be examined at different spatial levels, such as local scale, and global scale (spatial scale)
  • A relationship between a distance on the ground and a corresponding distance on a map, with the scale coded on the map as a ratio, for example ‘1 cm : 1 km’ (map scale).

Graphs that plot a relationship between two variables, for example, population density and distance of a place from the centre of a city, or rainfall and height above sea level. The method can be used to identify anomalies for closer study.

A graphic organiser to ecord collected data to reveal correlations, for example, dates and ages of death collected from a scan of a cemetery.

A classification of weeks or months of a year into seasons. The standard classification is spring, summer, autumn and winter, but this is a temperate zone concept imported from Europe. In northern Australia, the seasons are commonly described as the wet and the dry. Aboriginal cultures have much more complex classifications, and these vary considerably from region to region across Australia because they are finely tuned to local climates and changing availability of food and other resources.

Sources of information that have been collected, processed, interpreted and published by others, for example, census data, newspaper articles, and images or information in a published report.

A spatial distribution of different types of human settlement, from isolated dwellings to villages and outstations, towns, regional centres and large cities. Smaller settlements typically form spatial patterns around larger settlements.

A measure of a number and strength of people’s social relationships with other people. These relationships or connections may be with people in the same place or in other places, and they can be face-to-face connections or electronic. An opposite of good social connections is social isolation or loneliness.

A concept that all people have the right to fair treatment and equal access to the benefits of society.

A three-dimensional surface of the earth on which everything is located and across which people, goods and information move.

Similarity in spatial distributions of two or more phenomena. A spatial association suggests that there may be a relationship between the phenomena, which can then be explained through an operation of atmospheric, hydrologic, geomorphic, biological, socioeconomic or political processes.

An arrangement of particular phenomena or activities across the surface of the earth.

Any software or hardware that interacts with real-world locations. A use of spatial technologies forms the basis of many geographers’ work practice. The Global Positioning System (GPS), Google Earth, geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite images are the most commonly used spatial technologies to visualise, manipulate, analyse, display and record spatial data.

A difference or variation (in terms of population, population density, gross domestic product (GDP), life expectancy) over an area of the earth’s surface.

One of the many world views that informs ways of achieving sustainability. When applied to the environment, stewardship is an ethical position that supports careful management of environmental resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Stewards do not own resources; they only manage them.

An ongoing capacity of an environment to maintain all life, whereby the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

A group of interacting objects, materials or processes that form an integrated whole. Biophysical systems include humans and their activities and impacts.