LAB MODULE 2: THE GEOGRAPHER’S TOOLS

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LAB MODULE 2: THE GEOGRAPHER’S TOOLS

Note: Please refer to the GETTING STARTED lab module to learn tips on how to set

up and maneuver through the Google Earth ( ) component of this lab.

KEY TERMS

The following is a list of important words and concepts used in this lab module:

Absolute location Geographic Information System (GIS)

Remote sensing

Aerial photographs Land Use/Land Cover Satellite images (Landsat)

Cartographer Larger scale map Scale

Contours, contour

lines

Latitude Slope

Contour interval (CI) Longitude Small scale map

Coordinate systems Map scale (Scale) Spatial analysis

False color composite Map types Thematic maps

Geospatial

technologies

Relative location

 

LAB MODULE LEARNING OBJECTIVES

After successfully completing this lab module, you should be able to:

 Use latitude and longitude to find an absolute location

 Explain the difference between large and small scale maps  Calculate map scale  Identify and describe the three types of maps

 Interpret contour maps  Identify changes in land use and land cover using remotely sensed images

 

 

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INTRODUCTION

This lab module examines fundamental concepts and tools geographers use to

study the Earth. Topics include latitude and longitude, absolute and relative

location, geospatial technologies, map types and scale. While these topics may

seem disparate, you will learn how they are inherently related.

The modules start with four opening topics, or vignettes, found in the

accompanying Google Earth file. These vignettes introduce basic concepts related to

geospatial tools and technologies. Some of the vignettes have animations, videos,

or short articles that will provide another perspective or visual explanation for the

topic at hand. After reading each vignette and associated links, answer the

following questions. Please note that some components of this lab may take a while

to download or open, especially if you have a slow internet connection.

Expand GEOGRAPHER’S TOOLS, and then expand the INTRODUCTION folder.

Double-click Topic 1: Tools for Geography.

Read Topic 1: Tools for Geography.

Question 1: According to the article, what are three geographic technologies

geographers use to study the Earth?

A. GIS, GPS, and compasses

B. GPS, remote sensing, and GIS

C. GIS, AutoCAD, and remote sensing

D. GPS, Glovis, and GIS

Read Topic 2: Maps.

Question 2: In what state was the first topographic map (relief map using

contour lines) issued in the United States?

A. Delaware

B. Louisiana

C. Maryland

D. Mississippi

Read Topic 3: Coordinate Systems and Location.

Question 3: What continent is found at grid cell 35N?

A. The continent of Africa

 

 

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B. The continent of Australia

C. The continent of Europe

D. The continent of South America

 

Read Topic 4: Geospatial Technologies.

 

Question 4: Looking at the map layers above, which layers would be most

likely acquired through the use of radar and satellites?

A. States and cities

B. Countries and Territories

C. Background

D. Radar and Satellite

Collapse and uncheck INTRODUCTION.

 

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

Latitude and Longitude form a grid on the Earth’s surface, enabling us to determine

an absolute location for any given place or phenomenon.

 

 

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Expand GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE.

Turn on the latitude and longitude grid by selecting View > Grid, or by using

the keyboard shortcut CTRL + L. Mac users click + L.

Lines of latitude, or parallels, divide the globe at the Equator, and run parallel in

both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (Figure 1). Locations in the Northern

Hemisphere are denoted with an N (or a positive number), while locations in the

Southern Hemisphere are denoted with an S (or a negative number). The parallel at

the Equator is 0°N or 0°S, and increases to 90°N (or +90) at the North Pole, and

90°S (or -90) at the South Pole.

 

Latitude (parallels)

 

Longitude (meridians)

Figure 1. Lines of latitude (parallels) and longitude (meridians) (Arbogast)

 

Double-click and select Prime Meridian.

Lines of longitude, or meridians, run from pole to pole. Along the Prime Meridian

(which runs through Greenwich, UK), the Earth is divided into Eastern and Western

Hemispheres. Locations in the Eastern Hemisphere are denoted with an E (or a

positive number), while locations in the Western Hemisphere are denoted with a W

(or a negative number). The Prime Meridian is 0°E or 0°W, and increases to toward

180°E (or +180) or 180°W (or -180).

Latitude and longitude are measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds. Similar to a

clock, where one hour equals 60 minutes, and one minute equals 60 seconds, each

degree of latitude or longitude can be divided into 60 minutes (60’) and each

minute of latitude or longitude can be further subdivided into 60 seconds (60”). For

example, the White House in Washington, DC is located at 38° 53’ 51” N, 77° 02’

 

 

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11” W. Latitude and longitude can also be measured in decimal degrees, or degrees

and decimal minutes, by converting the minutes and/or seconds into decimal

fractions. Cardinal directions (North, East, South and West) are replaced with

positive or negative signs. Therefore, the absolute location of the White House in

decimal degrees would be 38.8976, -77.0365.

Click Exit Street View in the top right corner of the Google Earth 3D viewer.

Change your units to degrees, minute and seconds. (Refer to the GETTING

STARTED lab module for directions on how to change latitude and longitude

units).

Double-click and select Location A.

Question 5: What are the latitude and longitude coordinates for Location A?

A. 51N, 114E

B. 114S, 51 E

C. 51S, 114W

D. 51N, 114W

Double-click and select Location B.

Question 6: What are the latitude and longitude coordinates for Location B?

A. 53N 6E

B. 6N, 53E

C. 53S, 6W

D. 53N, 6W

Question 7: Which is closer – the distance between Location A and the

Equator or the distance between Location B and the Equator?

A. Location A and the Equator

B. Location B and the Equator

C. Locations A and B are the same distance from the Equator

D. Cannot discern from the information provided

Question 8: Which is closer – the distance between Location A and the

Prime Meridian or the distance between Location B and the Prime Meridian?

A. Location A and the Prime Meridian

B. Location B and the Prime Meridian

C. Locations A and B are the same distance from the Prime Meridian

D. Cannot discern from the information provided

 

 

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Double-click and select Location C.

Question 9: What are the latitude and longitude coordinates for Location C?

A. 50N, 68S

B. 50N, 68W

C. 50S, 68E

D. 50S, 68W

Question 10: Which is farther– the distance between Location B and the

Equator or the distance between Location C and the Equator?

A. Location B and the Equator

B. Location C and the Equator

C. Locations B and C are the same distance from the Equator

D. Cannot discern from the information provided

Question 11: Which is farther – the distance between Location A and the

Prime Meridian or the distance between Location C and the Prime Meridian?

A. Location A and the Prime Meridian

B. Location C and the Prime Meridian

C. Locations A and C are the same distance from the Prime Meridian

D. Cannot discern from the information provided

Collapse and uncheck GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE.

Turn off the latitude/longitude grid. Press CTRL + L. Mac users press + L.

 

 

 

MAP SCALES

Map scale (or scale) is the ratio of the distance between two features or absolute

locations on the map and the distance between the same two features or absolute

locations on the ground. Maps should provide a scale to the user; typically, map

scales are shown in the bottom margin of the map.

Map scales are expressed in the following ways:

 Ratio  Representative fraction  Verbal scale (also called a lexical scale)

 

 

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 Bar scale (also called a scale bar, graphic scale, or graphical scale).

An example of each of these map scales is illustrated below.

Scale Expression

Ratio 1:12,000

Representative Fraction (RF) 1/12,000

Verbal 1 inch equals 1,000 feet

Scale Bar

 

Expand MAP SCALES and then double-click and select Boothbay Harbor

(Note: The topographic map might take a few seconds to display). To close the

citation, click the X in the top right corner of the window.

Question 12: How is the scale on this map expressed or presented (Hint:

look toward the bottom of the map image)?

A. Scale bar and RF

B. RF and Verbal

C. Verbal and Ratio

D. Scale Bar and Ratio

If you enlarge (zoom in) or reduce (zoom out) of the map, the scale of the image

changes, but the scales found the map do not. It is important to note only a bar

scale can be used to make distance calculations to a map that is enlarged or

reduced because it is the only map scale that remains correct if the map size

changes.

If a bar scale is not provided, it is important to know how to calculate distance. In

Google Earth, the Ruler tool will help you calculate the approximate distance

between two (or more) points.

To calculate scale, we will use the equation

S =

 

 

where:

 

 

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 S = scale

 d = distance between two features on the map

 D = distance between two feature on the ground

Whether using the metric system or the British/Imperial system, make sure that

you know the conversions between the units.

Metric Units

1 m = 100 cm

1 km = 1000 m

1 km = 100,000 cm

 

British/Imperial Units

1 ft = 12 in

1 mile = 5,280 ft

1 mile = 63,360 in

Now for an example that will use the scale equation (S =

) and British/Imperial

units.

Example 1: Two buildings are 8 inches apart on a map (d). The same buildings

are 16,000 feet apart on the ground (D). Calculate the scale of the map.

To calculate the scale, first let’s make sure that are units are the same. Currently,

the map units (d) are in inches and the ground units (D) are in feet. Therefore, we

will convert feet to inches.

We know there are 12 inches in a foot, so we can multiply D by 12 to convert the

distance on the ground from feet (ft) to inches (in).

D = 16,000 ft.

D = 16,000 ft. x 12 inches/ft. = 192,000 inches

Now we can use the equation

S =

 

S =

 

Because we are dividing the same unit in the numerator as the denominator, the

units (inches) cancel out.

S =

 

 

 

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Now we need to simplify the equation so that our numerator is a 1. We can do this

by dividing both the numerator and the denominator by 8.

S =

 

S =

 

This ratio can also be written as 1:24,000.

Example 2: Calculate the scale of a map in which the distance between two

features is 6” on the map (d) and 12 miles on the ground (D).

Again, to calculate the scale, we first need to convert distances into the same units.

There are 63,360 inches in a mile. If we multiply 12 miles by 63,360 we can

convert D into inches

D = 12 miles

D = 12 miles x 63,360 inches/mile = 720,360 inches

Now we can use the equation

S =

 

S =

=

 

 

Because we are dividing the same unit in the numerator as the denominator, the

units (inches) cancel out.

Now we need to simplify the equation so that our numerator is a 1. We can do this

by dividing both the numerator and the denominator by 6.

S =

=

 

 

This ratio can also be written as 1:126,720

Notice that Examples 1 and 2 have different map scales. The map scale in Example

1, at 1:24,000, is larger than the map scale in Example 2, at 1:126,760.

Large-scale maps are more zoomed in and therefore show more detail, but less

area. Conversely, small scale maps are more zoomed out and therefore show less

detail but more area. Figures 2 and 3 illustrate larger and smaller map scales.

 

 

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Example 3. What is the distance on a map (d) in centimeters between two

features if they are 5km apart on the ground (D) and the map has a scale (S) of

1:100,000?

First, we need to rearrange our equation so that we are solving for map distance

rather than scale.

S =

rearranged to d = S * D

Because Scale (S) is unitless, we do not have to worry yet about converting units.

To note, the Scale ratio of 1:100,000 can be rewritten as 1/100,000.

Figure 2. Map with a 1:24,000 scale (larger scale map) (USGS)

Figure 3. Map with 1:62,500 scale (smaller scale map) (USGS)

 

http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/index.html
http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/index.html

 

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d = S * D

d =

* 5km =

 

 

d = 0.00005km

Because we are solving for map distance (d), it is unlikely that the final answer will

be in kilometers, and far more likely to be in centimeters. So, we convert km to cm.

d = 0.00005km *

 

d = 5cm

Example 4. What is the distance on the ground in kilometers between two

features if they are 5cm apart on the map and the map has a scale of 1:50,000?

First, we need to rearrange our equation so that we are solving for map distance

rather than scale.

S =

rearranged to D =

 

 

Next, we solve the equation.

D =

=

 

⁄ =

 

= 250,000cm

Because we are solving for ground distance (D), it is unlikely that the final answer

will be in centimeters, and far more likely to be in kilometers. So, we convert cm to

km.

D =

⁄ = 2.5km

 

Question 13. Using Figure 4, calculate the distance on the ground, in miles,

between Mill Point and Oak Point. Assume we measured 5 inches as the map

distance, and know that the map scale is 1:63,360.

 

 

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Figure 4. Mill and Oak Points (USGS)

A. 5 inches * 63,360 inches = 316,800 inches = 60 miles

B. 5 inches * 63,360 inches = 316,800 inches = 5 miles

C. 5 inches / 63,360 inches = .0000799 miles = 41.7 feet

D. 63,360 inches / 5 inches = 12,672 inches = 2.4 miles

Question 14: What is the distance on a map in centimeters between two

features if they are 7.6 km apart on the ground and the map has a scale of

1:125,000?

A. 7.6 km * (1/125,000) = 0.0000608 cm

B. 7.6 km * (1/125,000) = 6.08 cm

C. 7.6 km / (1/125,000) = 95 cm

D. 7.6 km / (1/125,000) = 950,000 cm

Google Earth does not provide scale as a ratio, representative fraction, or a verbal

scale. It does, however, provide a bar scale, found in the lower left hand corner of

the screen. If it is not active, select View > Scale Legend.

Even if it seem counterintuitive, remember! the larger the distance on the bar

scale, the smaller the map scale. Likewise, the smaller the distance on the bar

scale, the larger the map scale.

 

 

http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/index.html

 

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Double-click and select Squirrel Island 1.

Question 15: What is the approximate distance, in feet, represented by the

scale bar?

A. ~ 4000 ft

B. ~ 5800 ft

C. ~ 6600 ft

D. ~ 7400 ft

Uncheck Squirrel Island 1. Double-click and select Squirrel Island 2.

Question 16:What is the approximate distance, in feet, represented by the

scale bar?

A. ~ 1150 ft

B. ~ 1350 ft

C. ~ 1550 ft

D. ~ 1950 ft

Question 17: Which bar scale represents the smaller map scale – Squirrel

Island 1 or Squirrel Island 2?

A. Squirrel Island 1

B. Squirrel Island 2

C. They are the same

D. Unable to determine from information provided

Collapse and uncheck MAP SCALES.

 

 

CONTOURS

Contours are lines that connect places of equal elevation. A contour interval (CI) is

the elevation difference between two consecutive contour lines, and is commonly

provided in the margin of a map. In Figure 5, the CI is 10 feet, meaning each

consecutive contour line represents a 10 foot change in elevation.

Index contours are typically labeled and are have a heavier line weight than regular

contour lines. In Figure 5, the index contours are found every 50 feet (every 5

contour lines). The Index contours at 50, 100, and 150 feet are labeled on the

contour map.

 

 

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There some rules

regarding contour lines:

 Contour lines always form a closed polygon (see A in Figure 5).

However, on some maps, contour lines

might run off the margin.

 Contour lines spaced

closer together depict a steeper slope (see B

in Figure 5). In contrast, contour lines spaced farther apart

(wider spacing) depicts a gentler slope

or flat area.

 Contour lines might touch where there is a

steep elevation change, like a steep slope or cliff. Contour lines never cross unless the cliff face

has an overhanging ledge (hidden contours are then depicted as dashed lines).

 Concentric, closed contours denote a hill or summit (see C in Figure 5); whereas closed contours with hachure marks on the downslope side depicts a depression.

 Wherever contour lines cross a river point, the lines point upstream and create a V-shaped pattern (see D in Figure 5).

 

Double-click and expand CONTOURS.

Double-click and select Boothbay Harbor. (Note: The topographic map might

take a few seconds to display). To close the citation, click the X in the top right

corner of the window.

A USGS 7.5” map will appear near Georgetown, Maine. You might have to pan and

zoom in or out to answer the following questions.

Question 18: What is the contour interval of this map?

A. 10 meters

B. 24,000 feet

C. 10 feet

D. 24,000 meters

Figure 5. Contours (USGS)

A

C

z

D

B

 

http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/index.html

 

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Double-click and select MacMahan Island.

Question 19: What is the index contour interval shown on MacMahan

Island?

A. Every 20 feet

B. Every 40 meters

C. Every 50 feet

D. Every 100 meters

Unselect MacMahan Island. Double-click and select Red Squares.

Question 20: What is the highest elevation within the two squares?

A. 150 meters

B. 150 feet

C. 175 feet

D. 93 feet

Question 21: Within the right red square, determine the general

downstream direction of the river.

A. North

B. East

C. South

D. West

Question 22: Explain what contour rule helped you answer Question 21.

A. Contours are spaced close together

B. Contours form closed polygons

C. Contours form a V shape that points upstream

D. Contours form a V shape that points downstream

Question 23: Within these two red squares, where is the steepest slope

located?

A. Left edge of right square

B. Left edge of left square

C. Middle of right square

D. Middle of left square

Question 24: Within these two red squares, where is the flattest area?

A. Left edge of left square

B. Upper right corner of right square

 

 

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C. Upper center of left square

D. Upper center of right square

Uncheck Red Squares.

Double-click and select Slope 1. Next, change the elevation exaggeration to 2

(see GETTING STARTED lab module on how to change exaggeration).

Double-click and select Perspective view to see the landscape in three

dimensions.

Question 25: As you move from left to right across the yellow line, is the

elevation increasing or decreasing?

A. Increasing

B. Decreasing

C. Remaining flat

D. Unable to determine from information provided

Right-click on Slope 1 and then select Show Elevation Profile.

At the bottom of the screen is a cross section of the terrain for the yellow line. The

X axis of the elevation profile chart is the distance of the line, while Y axis of the

charge represents the elevation over the line distance. As you run the cursor along

the line, the corresponding location along the profile is identified. Additional

information regarding elevation, distance, and slope is found immediately above the

elevation profile.

Question 26: What is the approximate length of the profile line (distance),

in feet?

A. ~ 131 feet

B. ~ 161 feet

C. ~ 966 feet

D. ~ 5280 feet

Question 27: What is the change in elevation (the relief) from one end of

the line to the other, in feet?

A. ~ 131 feet

B. ~161 feet

C. ~ 966 feet

D. ~ 5280 feet

 

 

 

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Question 28: Slope is the rise (relief of the line) divided by the run

(distance of the line). Using your answers from the previous two questions,

calculate the percent slope of the line to the nearest integer.

 

*100 = (________ /_______) *100 = ______________

A. (131 feet / 161 feet) * 100 = 81%

B. (161 feet / 966 feet) * 100 = 17%

C. (966 feet / 5280 feet) * 100 = 18%

D. (966 feet / 161 feet) * 100 = 600%

Collapse and uncheck CONTOURS.

 

REMOTE SENSING

Remote sensing is the art and science of acquiring information about a feature or

phenomenon without being in direct contact of that feature or phenomenon. In this

part of the lab, you will explore land use and land cover change using satellite

imagery. For the rest of this lab, you will be working with Landsat satellite imagery,

which is considered the longest continuous global record of Earth’s surface.

Expand REMOTE SENSING and then click NASA Landsat Flyby.

Question 29: How long has Landsat been collecting data on Earth?

A. Since 1968

B. Since 1953

C. Since 1977

D. Since 1972

Question 30: Natural disasters like the Mount St. Helens eruption and urban

growth in places like Las Vegas are two uses of Landsat data. Based on the

video, name two additional physical geography topics – and their example

locations – for which Landsat imagery has been used.

A. Mosquito habitat, Mississippi & Oil exploration, Canada

B. Climate change, Antarctic & Flooding, North Carolina

C. Ecosystems, North Carolina & Mosquito habitat, Yemen

D. Oil exploration, Yemen & Farmland, Kansas

Uncheck NASA Landsat Flyby.

 

 

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Click Landsat Viewer. (Note: if the webpage does not open or takes too long

to load, open the web browser outside of Google Earth by choosing the browser

icon at the top left corner of the Google Earth Viewer.)

In the ESRI web site, go to the top right hand corner and select View larger. The

default image should be Mount St. Helens, in Washington, USA. If it is not, type

Mount St. Helens in the search field and then press Enter. To zoom in or out, use

any slider found in the top left-hand corner of an image area. Assume North is at

the top of these remotely sensed images.

The images in the left (1975) and center (2000) panels are called false color

composite images. The satellite sensors collect data from the non-visible portion of

the electromagnetic spectrum (that is to say, wavelengths outside of the visible

portion of the electromagnetic spectrum we see with our eyes). Specifically, the

images are displaying reflected infrared energy; these are wavelengths longer than

visible light. Vegetation reflects a great amount of this energy, and appears red in

these images. The image to the far right shows change or difference between the

1975 and 2000 images. For a further interpretation of colors, see the legends found

below the images.

Question 31: What direction was most impacted by the 1980 Mount St.

Helen’s eruption?

A. North

B. East

C. South

D. West

Question 32: How did you determine this from the remote sensing imagery?

A. The significant decrease in vegetation

B. The Swift Reservoir is smaller in the 2000 image

C. Spirit Lake in 1975 is now 2 separate lakes in 2000

D. Forests have grown back.

Type Las Vegas, Nevada in the search field and then press Enter. You can pan

or zoom in or out of the image to answer the following questions.

Question 33: What does the “white” in the change detection image (right

panel) represent?

A. Increased vegetation

B. Decreased vegetation

C. No change

D. Clouds

 

 

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Question 34: In which direction has the majority of urban growth occurred

between 1975 and 2000?

A. North

B. East

C. South

D. All directions

Question 35: What are the bright red (green in the change detection image)

rectangle features that are predominately found on the west side of Las

Vegas?

A. New casinos

B. New subdivisions

C. New golf courses

D. New water parks

Question 36: Is urbanization in this region linked to an overall increase,

decrease, or no change in vegetation land cover?

A. Increase

B. Decrease

C. Roughly the same

D. Unable to tell from information provided

Question 37: Present in both 1975 and 2000, what is the diagonal strip

running NE to SW through the middle of the city?

A. Dried river bed

B. Airport runway

C. The famous Las Vegas “Strip”

D. A major interstate highway

Collapse and uncheck REMOTE SENSING. You have completed Lab Module 2.

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