The Earth on which we live is shaped like a ball; yet it is not quite round, being a little flattened at the poles and bulging slightly at the Equator.
The Axis of the earth is an imaginary line passing through its centre from Pole to Pole
There are two poles—the North Pole and the South Pole.
The Equator is an imaginary line drawn round the earth, midway between the two
The Circumference of the earth is approximately 24,800 miles.
The Diameter of the earth is roughly 8,000 miles.
The Sun is fixed, and moving around the sun are a number of large spheres called planets.
The earth on which we live is one of those planets.
The Sun and the Moon are also planets.
Some of the other planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.and Pluto.
The Sun and all the planets around him are called the Solar System.
Pluto (minor planet designation: 134340 Pluto) is an icy dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune.
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The Sun is 93 million miles away from the earth.
The Moon is about 240,000 miles away from the earth.
The Earth has two motions: (a) Diurnal or Daily, and (b) Annual or Yearly.
Diurnal or Daily Motions:
The earth rotates or turns on its axis from west to east once in twenty-four hours. This is called the Rotation of the Earth.
Rotation of the earth causes Day and Night. When that side of the earth on which we live is turned towards the sun, we have day; but when it is turned away from the sun we have night.
The Annual or Yearly Motion :
The Earth turns not only on its axis. It also moves around the sun along an almost circular path called its Orbit. This journey of the earth around the sun is called the Revolution of the Earth and it takes 365 days.
Leaving out the % day our Ordinary Year consists of 365 days; but at the end of every four years the four Quarter-days are added to the ordinary year to make a Leap Year of 366 days.
The axis of the earth is inclined at an angle of 66^° to the plane of its orbit. As a result of this the earth is in different positions as it makes its journey round the sun. The Annual Motion of the earth, on its inclined axis therefore causes the Four Seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
On March 21st the sun is overhead at the Equator. It is then Spring in the North Temperate zone.
On June 21st when the sun is overhead at the Tropic of Cancer places in the North Temperate zone have Summer.
On September 23rd the sun is back on the equator and the North Temperate zone has the season of Autumn.
On December 21st the sun is at the Tropic of Capricorn. Then the North Temperate zone has Winter.
In the South Temperate Zone the seasons are the reverse of those mentioned above at the same time of the Year.
Meteorological temperate seasons
Equinoxes or equal nights (and consequently equal days) are the times when the sun is shining directly overhead at the Equator. March 21st is called the Vernal Equinox; September 23rd is called the Autumnal Equinox.
Solstices are the times when the sun is overhead at the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and seems to stand for a little while before moving back in the direction of the Equator. June 21st is called the Summer Solstice, December 21st is called the Winter Solstice.
Distance: In order to enable us to calculate the distance between one place and another a number of circles are drawn round the globe.
Every circle is divided into 360 degrees (360°) and each degree is approximately 69 miles.
Lines of Latitude and Longitude enable us to measure distances on a map, or to find the position of any place on a map.
Latitude is distance, measured in degrees, north or south of the equator.
Longitude is distance, measured in degrees, east or west of a given Meridian.
Meridians or mid-day lines are lines drawn on a map from the North Pole to the South Pole, and all places on any one of these lines have mid-day at the same time.
The Prime Meridian The Prime Meridian passes through Greenwich. East longitude is up to 180° East of Greenwich. West Longitude is up to 180° West of Greenwich.
The Equator marked 0°.
The Tropic of Cancer 23y° North of the Equator.
The Tropic of Capricorn 23L° South of the Equator.
The Arctic Circle 66t° North of the Equator.
The Antarctic 66i° South of the Equator.
Ocean Currents are streams of water crossing the oceans. They follow the direction of the Prevailing Winds.
Beginning in the Atlantic Ocean, the Westerly winds drive the cold Antarctic Current eastwards.
This turns northwards when it reaches the coast of Africa and is known as the Benguela Current. The South East Trade Winds take this current westwards as the South Equatorial Current. Off Cape St. Roque at the corner of Brazil this current divides into two. One branch flows south-west to become the Brazilian Current while the main current continues north-west into the Gulf of Mexico. This South Equatorial Current leaves the Gulf of Mexico and Flows north-east as the Warm Gulf Stream. It widens over the Atlantic, part flowing as the North Atlantic Drift and warming the shores of the British Isles and Northern Europe. The other part turns south at the Canaries under the influence of the North East Trade Winds to join the North Equatorial Current.
From the Arctic Ocean come the cold Arctic Current flowing along the shores of Greenland, and the cold Labrador Current. The latter meets the Warm Gulf Stream off Newfoundland. The meeting of the cold air and warm air from over these two currents causes great fogs off Newfoundland.
In the Pacific Ocean the currents are similar to those in the Atlantic but the names of some are different. The Antarctic Current joins the Peruvian Current which is continued as the South Equatorial Current. Off the East of Australia this current divides into the New South Wales Current which turns South, while the main current continues to become Japan or Kuro Siwo Current —the counterpart of the Gulf Stream. When this current turns southwards it becomes the Californian Current.
The Currents of the North Indian Ocean follow the Monsoons. Those of the South Indian Ocean follow the pattern of the Atlantic and Pacific. The most important current in this part of the Ocean is the Agulhas Current.
Ocean Currents influence Climate. Places near to a warm current have a much warmer climate than lands in the same latitude under the influence of a Cold Current.
Rain: By a process called Evaporation the heat of the sun changes much of the water of seas, rivers and lakes into water-vapour.
When this moisture laden air ascends into the colder higher regions of the atmosphere or is blown there by winds, it becomes cooled, and condensation takes place. The drops of water then unite together and fall to the earth as Rain.
The chief types of Rainfall are Convectional, Relief, Cyclonic.
Dew: During the night the earth cools more rapidly than the air above it. The layers of air nearest the earth therefore become cooled. Condensation takes place and the moisture deposited on the ground, grass and other objects is called Dew.
Rainbow : The sun's rays passing through the drops of water in the air are doubly refracted and the human eye sees the reflection in the form of a brilliant arch of prismatic colours which we call the Rainbow. A Rainbow is best seen when the rain is falling while the sun is shining.
Clouds are collections of water-vapour on the dust particles in the various layers of the atmosphere. They are usually classified as follows:
Cirrus (feathery); Cumulus (rounded masses); Stratus (horizontal sheets); Nimbus (rain).
Fogs and Mist are formed when condensation of the water-vapour in the air near the earth's surface takes place upon the dust particles in the air.
" A fog is a cloud resting on the earth; a cloud is a fog floating high in the air." (Huxley.)
Snow: If the temperature in the upper layers of the atmosphere falls below freezing point then the moisture in the air is frozen into little six-sided crystals. These crystals fall to the earth as snow, but only when the temperature over the earth's surface is also near to freezing point.
Snow Line: The Level above which there is always snow.
Hail is caused by the freezing of raindrops as they pass through layers of cold air. Hence hail falls to the ground in showers of little hard pellets.
Eclipse: When the light of the sun or the moon is obscured by another body passing between it and the eye, the sun or moon is said to be in Eclipse.
The Sun is in Eclipse when the moon comes between it and the Earth.
There is an Eclipse of the moon when the earth comes between it and the sun.
Land and Sea Breezes
Land heats more rapidly and cools more quickly than the sea.
During the day, therefore, the pressure of the air over the land is lower than that over the sea. Hence breezes blow from the sea to the land.
At night the air over the sea is warmer than the air over the land so that the breeze blows from the land to the sea.
Tides: These are the regular rise and fall of the waters of the ocean. Tides are caused by the attractive force of the sun and moon acting upon the earth and on the moving waters of the ocean. There are two kinds of tides, (a) Spring Tides, which are caused by the pulling of the sun and moon together; and (b) Neap tides, which are caused when the sun and moon are at right angles and pull against each other.
There are two Spring Tides and Two Neap Tides every lunar month.
Spring tide is when the highest point of the tide is reached.
Neap tide is when the lowest point of the tide is reached.
The flow of the tide is the coming in.
The ebb of the tide is the going out.
Tides ebb and flow twice in 25 hours.
Work of the Tides: Tides alter the shape of the coast line. They form estuaries when they rush up the mouth of a narrow river;
They sometimes form bores, as in the Severn; and Capes, as when they bring material and deposit it on the continental shelf e.g. The Cape of Good Hope.
They aid shipping.
Saltness of the Sea: The water of rivers absorbs tiny particles of mineral salts from the earth which eventually reach the sea. In the course of centuries these accumulated deposits have made the sea water salt.
Continental Shelf is the name given to the land around the continents which is covered by the sea. The shelf slopes down to a depth of 100 fathoms, from which edge there is a steep drop to the bed of the ocean. Continental shelves provide excellent fishing grounds and good harbours.
The Earth's Crust is composed of rocks which are classified as either (a) Igneous, (b) Aqueous or Sedimentary or Stratified, (c) Metamorphic.
A Volcano is an opening in the earth's crust out of which steam, gases and molten rocks are hurled with terrific force.
The interior of the earth is very hot. Through cracks in the earth's surface water from the rain, rivers, seas etc., trickles down to the interior of the earth where it boils and is changed into steam. This is kept down by the pressure of the layers of the earth. At certain times the steam forces itself through a fault or a line of weakness in the earth. When this happens an eruption of a Volcano is said to have taken place.
Volcanoes may be either active, dormant or extinct.
Geysers are hot springs from which columns of boiling water and steam gush forth at intervals. Geysers are found in regions usually associated with volcanoes. Iceland; The Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, North America; and New Zealand are famous for
An Earthquake is the shaking or movement of the earth. As the interior of the earth cools it solidifies and leaves spaces between the layers of the earth. The crusts of the earth then fall or move to fit themselves on the shrinking interior. When this happens we feel the movements as Earthquakes.
Fold Mountains are caused by Earthquakes and are found along the lines of weakness of the earth.
Block Mountains are solid masses of hard resistant rocks which have been able to withstand the movements which cause folding of the earth's surface.
Valleys: When forces working inside the earth cause a block mountain to split, the " rift" thus made is known as a Rift Vallly.
When a valley runs parallel to the trend of the mountains it is Longitudinal; when it runs across it is Transverse.
A Canyon is a steep-sided gully carved out by a river flowing through a rainless region.
Isobars are lines which are drawn on a map to connect places of equal pressure.
Isotherms are lines drawn on a map to connect places having equal temperature.
Isohyets are lines drawn on a map to connect places of equal rainfall.
Contours are lines drawn on a map to connect places of equal height above sea level.
Shotts is the name of the plateau in North-West Africa between the Atlas Mountains and the Tell.
A Shott is a shallow lake which becomes dry in the hot season.
Tell: The Tell is the most important region of the French Colony of Algeria in North-West
Africa. It is a fertile coastal strip between the Algerian Plateau and the sea.
Veld: The Veld or High Veld is a rich grassland country in the eastern part of the plateau of South Africa. Most of the Transvaal, The Orange Free State and part of Cape Colony belong to it. Large flocks of sheep are reared on the Veld chiefly for Wool.
Steppes are the great temperate grasslands of Southern Russia.
Karroos: The Karroo is a natural region of South Africa between the coastlands and the
Plateau. There are two Karroos, the Little Karroo and the Great Karroo. The vegetation in the Karroos is poor and the main industries are sheep farming and ostrich rearing.
Karst is a barren region on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
Landes are an area of Sand Dunes on the South Coast of France near Bordeaux.
Polders are the areas of land in Holland below sea level which are enclosed by embankments and dykes. Machinery for pumping water are a feature of the Polders.
Cantons: The term used to describe the political divisions of Switzerland.
Water Table: The margin of the earth below which the layers of soil are saturated with water.
A Tributary is the name given to a stream which empties itself into the main river as it flows to the sea. A tributary is also known as an Affluent.
A Confluence is the place where a tributary joins the main stream.
A Flood Plain is a plain which is liable to flooding by the overflowing of a river which has become swollen by heavy rains or melting snows. A flood plain is built up of deposits of fertile alluvial soil left by the river after the floods have subsided.
A Waterfall is a steep descent or fall in the flowing of a river. Large Waterfalls are called
Cataracts; smaller ones are known as Cascades.
An Avalanche is a mass of snow and ice which breaks loose from the snow-clad mountains and slips down the mountain sides with terrific force.
A Glacier is a huge sheet of ice formed from compressed snow which glides slowly down the mountain sides or valleys.
A Moraine is the name given to the debris left after a glacier has melted.
An Iceberg is the name given to a large mass of ice floating in the sea. Icebergs are really part of a glacier which break off and fall into the sea when the glacier reaches the coast un-melted. The bulk of an iceberg is submerged, only about one-tenth being visible above the surface of the water;
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For those students that presented work on English we gathered a lot of useful reference information that became a STUDENT's COMPENDIUM here are some samples of student work
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Please note there are some excellent links to assist with these pages
see at the end for the links for further information.
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