STANDARD TIME IN GEOGRAPHY EXPLAINED

Standard time is the synchronization of clocks within a geographical area or region to a single time standard, rather than using solar time or a locally-chosen meridian (longitude) to establish a local mean time standard.

For millennia, people have measured time based on the position of the sun; it was noon when the sun was highest in the sky.

Sundials were used well into the Middle Ages, at which time mechanical clocks began to appear.

Cities would set their town clock by measuring the position of the sun, but every city would be on a slightly different time.

As the telegraph and railroad began to speed words and passengers between cities, the use of local solar time created increasing problems.

A cross-country rail traveler in the United States in the 1870s might have experienced as many as 24 different local time standards between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Eventually, the railroads stimulated the development of a standardized time system. At the 1884 International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington, D.C., countries agreed to divide the world into 24 standard time zones, each extending over 15° of longitude.

The mean local solar time of the Greenwich (prime) meridian was chosen as the standard for the entire system.

The prime meridian became the center of a time zone that extends 7.5° of longitude to the west and 7.5° to the east of the prime meridian. Similarly, the meridians that are multiples of 15° both east and west of the prime meridian, were set as the central meridians for the 23 other time zones.

Although Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is now referred to as Universal Time Coordinated (UTC), the prime meridian is still the reference for standard time.

Because it is always the same number of minutes after the hour in all standard time zones (keeping in mind that a few countries, such as India, do not adhere to standard one-hour-interval time zones), to know the exact local time, we usually need to know only how many hours later or earlier our local time zone is compared to the time in Greenwich.

Most of the countries of the world are sufficiently small in their east–west direction so as to lie totally within a single time zone.

However, large countries may encompass several zones: Russia occupies nine time zones; including Alaska and Hawai‘i, the United States spreads over six ; Canada, six; and Australia, three.

In international waters, time zones are defined to be exactly 7°30´ to the east and 7°30´ to the west of the central meridians. Overland areas, however, zone boundaries vary to coincide with appropriate political and economic boundaries.

For example, continental Europe from Portugal to Poland shares a one-time zone, although longitudinally covering about 30°.

At the extreme, China extends across four 15° zones, but the entire nation, at least officially, observes the time of the 120° east meridian, which is the one closest to Beijing.

In each time zone, the central meridian marks the location where clock time is the same as mean Sun time (i.e., the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky at 12:00 noon).

On either side of that meridian, of course, clock time does not coincide with Sun time. The deviation between the two is shown for one U.S. zone in.

From the map of time zones of the United States, we can recognize a great deal of manipulation of the time zone boundaries for economic and political convenience.

For example, the Central Standard Time Zone, centered on 90° W extends all the way to 105° W (which is the central meridian of the Mountain Standard Time Zone) in Texas to keep most of that state within the same zone.

By contrast, El Paso, Texas, is officially within the Mountain Standard Time Zone in accord with its role as a major market center for southern New Mexico, which observes Mountain Standard Time. In the same vein, northwestern Indiana is in the Central Standard Time Zone with Chicago.

What is Geography?

Geography is a combination of two Greek words, Geo and Graphein.

Geo means the Earth and Grapheinmeans to write, to draw or to describe.

These two words together formed Geographia, which means to draw, to write about or describe the Earth.

These meanings led to the development of the early definition of Geography which referred to the description of the Earth by words, maps, and statistics including both the physical earth and everything found on it such as plants, animals, and people.

Therefore, Geography is the study of the distribution and interrelationship of phenomena in relation to the earth’s surface, or Geography is the study of the Earth and its environment.

BRANCHES OF GEOGRAPHY

There are three branches of Geography, namely:

Physical Geography

Physical Geography is a branch of geography that delves into the natural processes that shape and transform the Earth’s physical features. This field explores the intricate relationships between landforms, weather patterns, and climate systems. One of its primary focuses is the study of land formation processes, which involves investigating how geological forces, erosion, tectonic movements, and other natural agents contribute to the creation of mountains, valleys, rivers, and other landscape features. By understanding these processes, geographers can decipher the Earth’s history and predict its future changes.

Another crucial aspect of Physical Geography is the study of weather and climate. Meteorology, a subset of this branch, examines atmospheric conditions, including temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and atmospheric pressure. Climatology, on the other hand, involves the analysis of long-term weather patterns to understand climate zones and fluctuations. Physical geographers use advanced tools like satellites, remote sensing, and computer modeling to collect and interpret data, helping us predict natural disasters, track climate change, and manage environmental resources.

Human and Economic Geography

Human and Economic Geography concentrates on the interactions between humans and their environments, focusing on human activities and their influence on the Earth’s surface. This branch delves into how societies, cultures, economies, and urban areas are distributed across the planet and how they shape, and are shaped by, the physical environment.

The study of human activities on Earth’s surface involves examining aspects such as population distribution, migration patterns, urbanization, cultural landscapes, and social behaviors. It also encompasses economic geography, which studies the spatial distribution of economic activities, trade, resources, industries, and their impact on local and global economies. By understanding these dynamics, geographers can offer insights into sustainable urban planning, resource management, and social equity, as well as predict potential conflicts arising from resource scarcity or uneven development.

Practical Geography

Practical Geography emphasizes hands-on techniques used in the field, enabling geographers to collect, analyze, and interpret data directly from various locations on Earth. This branch encompasses several essential skills, including field study, photography, map work, and statistics.

Field study involves physically visiting different locations to gather data about their physical, human, or environmental characteristics. Through direct observation, measurements, and data collection, practical geographers can build a comprehensive understanding of these areas. Photography aids in documenting visual information, capturing changes over time, and illustrating geographic concepts.

Map work is another crucial aspect of practical geography, encompassing the creation, interpretation, and analysis of maps. Maps are valuable tools for representing spatial relationships, patterns, and distributions, aiding in navigation, planning, and decision-making. Practical geographers also use statistical techniques to process and analyze collected data, allowing them to identify trends, correlations, and patterns that can inform policy decisions, resource management, and urban planning.

IMPORTANCE OF STUDYING GEOGRAPHY.

We study Geography in order to;

Raise Our Standard of Living by Utilizing Available Resources

Studying geography plays a crucial role in raising our standard of living by helping us effectively manage and utilize available resources. By understanding the geographical distribution of resources like water, minerals, and arable land, we can make informed decisions on their sustainable use. This knowledge leads to better resource allocation, increased agricultural productivity, and efficient energy management. As we harness resources more efficiently, we can improve economic growth and the overall quality of life for communities.

Understanding and Solving Social and Geographical Problems

Geography equips us with the tools to comprehend and address a wide range of social and geographical challenges. Through studying topics like soil erosion, climate change, and land degradation, we gain insights into their causes, effects, and potential solutions. This knowledge empowers individuals and policymakers to implement strategies that mitigate these issues. By addressing these problems, we contribute to environmental preservation, agricultural sustainability, and disaster management.

Developing Observation, Measuring, Recording, and Interpretation Skills

Studying geography hones our skills of observation, measurement, recording, and interpretation. Through fieldwork, map analysis, and spatial data interpretation, we learn how to gather accurate information about the physical world. These skills are not only essential for geographical research but also applicable in various professions such as urban planning, environmental monitoring, and resource management. By developing these skills, we enhance our ability to make informed decisions based on reliable data.

Expanding Knowledge of Employment Opportunities

Geography provides insights into diverse career opportunities. Understanding geographical patterns in economic activities, urban development, and resource distribution opens up avenues for employment in fields like urban planning, transportation management, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), and environmental consulting. By recognizing these opportunities, individuals can make informed educational and career choices, contributing to personal growth and economic development.

Acquiring Skills to Combat Environmental Problems

Studying geography equips us with the skills needed to address pressing environmental challenges. As we learn about topics like drought, global warming, deforestation, and pollution, we gain a deeper understanding of their underlying causes and potential solutions. Armed with this knowledge, we can develop strategies for conservation, sustainable resource management, and climate change adaptation. These skills are essential for creating a more resilient and environmentally conscious society.

Understanding Interactions Between Countries and Sharing Problem-Solving Ideas

Geography provides insights into the interactions between countries, cultures, economies, and environments. By studying international trade, migration patterns, geopolitical relationships, and environmental impacts, we can better understand the global interconnectedness. This understanding enables us to share ideas and collaborate on solving shared challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity, and humanitarian crises. Through international cooperation, we can work towards a more peaceful and sustainable world.