Changes Seen in Rainfall. Trends in March, June and October Since 1945 in Spain

ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010) — An international team led by the University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR) has produced MOPREDAS, the most complete database to date on monthly precipitations in the Iberian Peninsula. This has been used to analyse monthly rainfall trends between 1945 and 2005 in the Spanish part of the Iberian Peninsula.

The aim of this study is «to respond to a request in the ministerial report about the impacts of climate change in Spain, which highlights the lack of detailed studies into rainfall in Spain or a database that covers the entire country,» José Carlos González-Hidalgo, lead author of the study and a tenured professor of Physical Geography in the Faculty of Geography at UNIZAR, said.

The study, which has just been published online in the International Journal of Climatology, shows that March, June and October are the months that show significant changes in precipitation trends across large areas of the Iberian Peninsula. Precipitation has declined in quantity in March and June (above all in the centre, south and west of the country), but over large parts of the country in general, affecting more than 60% of the peninsula in March.

«We can’t say categorically that annual precipitation has increased or decreased overall, but there are marked variations in different areas,» says the geographer.

For the period between October and March, rainfall has increased in October while there has been a widespread decrease in March, «which is important information for the management of water resources.»

Reconstruction of precipitation series over more than half a century

The scientists reconstructed and analysed 2,670 monthly precipitation series (average density 1/200 km2) over the peninsula between December 1945 and November 2005. To do this, they used the computerised documentary sources held by the Spanish Meteorological Agency (AEMet) in order to create details for different areas, «which had not been done until now,» says GonzálezHidalgo, adding that «we were able to carry out this work because the AEMet archives are the most useful of sources for research.»

In addition, the new database also includes information from above the 10001500 metre altitude range, «which had barely been analysed up until now,» the researcher stresses.

The results of the latest study «give a much more detailed image of precipitation behaviour over the second half of the century in peninsula Spain,» the scientist says.

The case of the Mediterranean coast

In previous studies, the group of scientists had analysed the same issue between 1950 and 2000 along the Mediterranean coast, covering the river basins of the eastern Pyrenees, the Ebro, Júcar, Segura rivers and eastern Andalusia, «an area in which water resources are placed under great consumption pressure and there is great social debate about the best way of managing them,» points out González-Hidalgo.

According to these preliminary studies, published i

n 2009 in the International Journal of Climatology, «the only widespread and significant reduction in precipitation along the Mediterranean could be seen in March,» concludes the researcher.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Continued Death of Forests Predicted in Southwestern US Due to Climate Change

ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2010) — If current climate projections hold true, the forests of the Southwestern United States face a bleak future, with more severe — and more frequent — forest fires, higher tree death rates, more insect infestation, and weaker trees. The findings by university and government scientists are published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

«Our study shows that regardless of rainfall going up or down, forests in the Southwest U.S. are very sensitive to temperature — in fact, more sensitive than any forests in the country,» said first author Park Williams, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Geography at UC Santa Barbara. «Forests in the Southwest are most sensitive to higher temperatures in the spring and summer, and those are the months that have been warming the fastest in this area.»

Past forest studies have shown that warmer temperatures are associated with wildfires and bark beetle outbreaks. «We found that up to 18 percent of forest area in the Southwest — millions of acres — has experienced mortality due to severe wildfires and bark beetle outbreaks in the last 20 years,» said Williams.

Co-author Joel Michaelsen, a professor of geography at UCSB, said: «In order to carry out this research project, Park Williams assembled a very comprehensive data set of over 1,000 tree ring chronologies from all across the United States.» Michaelsen is a dendroclimatologist — a scientist who studies climate using analysis of tree rings.

«Instead of using the chronologies to reconstruct past climate patterns, as is usually done in dendroclimatic work, the relationships between growth and climate were used to study possible impacts of future climate change on forest health,» said Michaelsen. «One noteworthy finding was that tree growth throughout the Southwestern U.S., while quite sensitive to precipitation variations, is also negatively impacted by warmer temperatures. This is an important result, because predictions of future warming in the region are considerably more certain than any predictions of precipitation change.»

Researchers found that historic patterns of vegetation change, insect outbreaks, fire activity, runoff, and erosion dynamics show that landscapes often respond gradually to incremental changes in climate and land-use stressors until a threshold is reached, at which time there may be dramatic landscape changes, such as tree die-offs or episodes of broad-scale fire or erosion. They also found that the stressors that contribute to tree mortality tipping points can develop over landscape and even sub-continental scales.

Co-author Christopher Still, an associate professor of geography at UCSB, said: «These predicted large-scale changes in forest cover and composition (i.e., types of tree species present) will have large implications for everything from snowpack and the river flows that our society depends on, to the intensity and frequency of fires, to the visual appearance of these landscapes that drives much of the tourism in this region.»

Added co-author Craig D. Allen of the U.S. Geological Survey: «Such big, fast changes in Southwest forest vegetation could have significant effects on a wide range of ecosystem goods and services, from watershed protection and timber supplies to biodiversity and recreation. These emerging vulnerabilities present increasingly clear challenges for managers of southwestern forests to develop strategies to mitigate or adapt to the coming changes, in order to sustain these forested ecosystems and their benefits into the future.»

Forests help retain rainwater and keep it from flowing down mountains immediately, noted Williams in explaining the importance of forests to landscapes and rivers. «When forests disappear,» he said, «water runs downhill more quickly and takes the upper layers of soil with it.»

According to Williams, the erosion makes it harder for future generations of trees to establish themselves and makes it more difficult for people to capture storm water as it flows from the mountains. In addition, erosion increases the amount of sediment flowing in rivers and settling in lakes, and causes water to remain in the forest long after the rain.

The paper also points to the many implications of these changes for future management and use of Southwest forests.

The scientific article is part of a special PNAS feature edition called

«Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America.»

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Small Islands in the Pacific: Duel Between Freshwater and Sea Water

ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2010) — It is said that the first refugees of climate change will come from the Pacific. In the midst of this ocean’s tropical regions are scattered 50,000 small islands, 8,000 of them inhabited. They are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming. These effects include rising seawater levels, drought and diminishing stocks of freshwater. Such water is essential for the life of the fauna and flora and for the human populations’ food supplies. On the coral reef islands, freshwater occurs as underground reservoirs, as lenses in balance with the underlying sea water.

IRD scientists and their research partners have investigated the processes behind such lenses, the way they change and develops, their capacity and vulnerability. The team’s geological, hydrogeological and geophysical surveys showed that the lens structure and internal processes depend strongly on the island’s vegetation cover and topography. This work opens up ways towards assessing what will happen to this resource as a consequence of expected changes in the climate and sea level.

The balance between freshwater and salt water in coastal and island aquifers is unstable and the processes involved are difficult to characterize. With the objective of understanding the processes behind this lens formation on a coral island, IRD and its partners studied the structure and such parameters as the geometry of the reservoir and flow rates.

Terrain untouched by human activity

The experimental sites, islands off Noumea in the South-West lagoon of New Caledonia, are remote from any human activity. The scientists used the geophysical imaging method, electrical resistivity tomography, to study the spatial distribution of the groundwater salinity, in particular on M’Ba island, 1,500 km east of Australia. With this imaging technique the groundwater conductivity can be measured along a vertical section and hence the salinity deduced. The data collected enabled the team to characterize the shape and structure of the underground freshwater reservoir, also to assess the rain-induced groundwater recharge, using a hydrological model based on IPCC climate data including information on cyclones.

Contrary to the results anticipated, this salinity proved to be intensively concentrated in the middle of the island rather than on its edges, which are the usual zones of sea water-freshwater interaction. Complementary analyses derived from a hydrogeological model have revealed the importance of vegetation cover and the island’s topography in the spatial distribution of the salinity in the groundwater reservoir, located 3 or 4 m below the ground surface, and the mechanisms of this island aquifer.

Plant transpiration causes the saline water to evaporate from the roots. This process concentrates salt in the freshwater lens at the island’s centre, as the plant cover is denser and longer established there. For example, a coconut palm draws up 300 L of water per day. Conversely, in the recent coastal sand dunes, the vegetation is much more sparse and the groundwater salinity remains less concentrated. Moreover, the freshwater lens recharge induced by rain is minimal in the island’s centre, again owing to the density of the vegetation and the greater degree of soil development. However, it is maximal in the sand dunes near the sea. This explains an accentuation of the phenomenon, with dilution of the underground water on the island margins and concentration of salt in the central areas.

The island’s morphology and internal structure also have a strong influence on the variable groundwater recharge rate along the island’s transverse axis. This island was constructed by the piling-up of layers of material from sanddominated reef formations, lying about 30 m above a complex substratum. It is geologically representative of many of the small islands or atolls in Noumea lagoon and, more generally, small coral reef islands of the Indo-Pacific region.

In conclusion, cross-validation of the geoelectrical models and the groundwater models is useful for 2D and 3D mapping of the salinity distribution of the island’s groundwater aquifer. This analysis can help assess the water resources of the Pacific coral islands in the context of the search for indicators of vulnerability in the face of global climate change and bring significant evidence concerning future changes and developments in coral islands, which contributes to the survival and development of numerous terrestrial and marine species and of their inhabitants.

These investigations were conducted jointly by the teams of the research units LOCEAN (UMR IRD/Université Paris VI/CNRS/MNHN), CEREGE (UMR IRD/CNRS/Collège de France/Universités Aix-Marseille 1 and 3) and Université de la Réunion and Université d’Avignon, as part of the INTERFACE project subsidized by the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) (programme Vulnérabilité, Milieux, Climats).

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.





Introduction: Scientific and professional journals are assumed as ducts of scientific production and scientific communication and trying to play these two functions between scholars in different academic fields. Review of historical science shows that efficient factors have had a general role in formation, emergence, growth and development of science with a particular role in knowledge of geography in which we can consider the scientific and professional journals. Scientific and professional journals are specialized publications which are published in regular intervals and play two-function of scientific production and scientific communication. Published articles in professional journals because of the updated and (relatively) short content, transferring the results of writer to the readers speedily, low cost of journal (compared to books), relatively authentic and first-hand information, detailed analysis and effort in using known and logical methods, fast publication and distribution, introducing the past to today’s textbooks and resources related to the topic, and removal of the marginal texts (due to observing a finite volume and a journal article) is so important.

The place of publications in addition to the role of enormous scientific findings resource in which used by most professional staff members of the community, is another important source assessment, including the level of countries or areas of science degree in special and the ability to assess the extent of scientific research and higher education for young people. Research Journal of Geographical Research (Journal of Geographical Research Institute University of Tehran) is a scientific research journals approved by the Commission reviews of the country — the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology and is the first specialized geography journal in the country in which from past 32 year till now 66 volumes have been published. The journal was named from the year 1988 as «Geographical Report» and after that till now (from 23 years onwards) as «Geographic Research,» has made available the latest scientific research and research studies from the geography of Iran for scholars.

Materials and methods: A descriptivecontent analytic method is used as the research method. This article is about studying the process of published numbers of a geographical quarterly journal during the past 10 years, from no.36 of October 1998 to no.66 of the winter of 2008 in the form of an eight parameter frame of «thematic share of articles», «science-proficiency group association»,

«resources and origins», «dividing the articles based on the extracting resource», and «used methods and techniques .« Result and discussion:

  1. Academic institutions participating:

In total, 53 scientific institutions as universities and academic research institutions — participated in 320 evaluated research articles; from 320 published articles in journal, 143 numbers of articles means 44.7 percent of them has allocated to University of Tehran and most of the remaining percent (29.4percent) are from other cities universities. Also, 62 number of articles means 19.4 percent of them were allocated to other universities of Tehran. Share of the rest of country’s academic institutions (11 institutions) in total were 3.4 percent and nearly 3.1 percent of the published articles institutions are unknown.

  1. Author scientific degree:

Reviewing the relevant data shows that scientific degree respectively, including : 10.9 percent Master’s degree, 24.1 percent associate professor, 45.3 percent assistant professor, 1.9 percent instructor, 9.7 percent doctoral graduates and doctoral students, 1.6 percent the graduates and master’s graduate student,0.3 percent BA and in 4.7 percent of articles, scientific place of scientific academy members is not mentioned.

  1. Articles issue share:

From 320 reviewed articles was respectively subject climatic geography:

17.5 percent, geomorphology 16.3 percent, hydrology 9.4 percent, rural geography 16.6 percent, urban geography 15.3 percent, geopolitics 8.4 percent, geography of tourism 2.8 percent, geographical area 0.9 percent and remote sensing and cultural geography 0.3 percent is allocated. Thus, the largest issue in these articles is dedicated to climate and geography articles and minimal contribution to remote sensing and geographic medicine.

  1. Used techniques and methods:

Nearly 83.4 percent of published articles not mentioned the method used in writing research, 8.4 percent of the articles descriptive — analytical, 1 percent empirical, 0.9 percent comparative method and 6.6 percent used from other methods

  1. Separating articles based on extractive resource

From 320 reviewed articles 21 articles means 6.6 percent of all articles extracted from previous resource and has been presented as article and separately 1.9 percent from published thesis, 0.9 percent from master’s thesis and 3.8 three percent are extracted from the research project. Also 287 articles mean 93.4 percent of articles have not been extracted from the previous field of scientific research.

  1. Participating of scientific– professional groups: In total, 20 scientific — specialist groups have been participating in 320 reviewed articles. However, this diversity is not so deep and 78.4 percent of articles are from the Department of Geography and this group has a general share in writing articles in this journal.
  2. Time of accepting articles:

Reviewing this issue is important to the arbitration process and journal organization for follow-up articles and have effective role in the satisfaction rate of applicants in publishing the magazine. From 320 articles of the time to get acceptance, 164 articles means 51.3 percent of the articles is not mentioned, and mainly are related to the first publishing decade of magazine, but in the other 157 articles the less time for acceptance of articles were 3 months and the maximum duration were 51 months.

  1. Sources: Generally in reviewed articles

5757 sources have been used in performing research that from this numbers 3594 means 62.2 percent are from Persian sources and 2163 sources means 37.5 percent are from Latin sources. Average resources used for the 320 articles, are equal 18 sources for each article that is satisfactory figure in the use of resources. Average of latin sources used in each paper is equal to 7 sources and for the Persian sources is about 11 sources for each article.


The results and findings show the quantitative and qualitative progress of the 8 parameters. The articles with the subjects of «natural geography» have the most share of the topics of the articles, and «continental geography» was the most used subject in these articles with 17.5% percents. The editors with the educational degree of «faculty co-professor» have the biggest number of the studied authors. Different authors of 19 science-proficiency groups participated in giving the articles of this research. Only 6.6% percents of the studied articles had the results of previous science-proficiency works. In most of the articles, the methodology in not mentioned, and the mostly used research method of the articles was descriptive — analytic.


Geography Research and News Geography Research and News

Decline of West Coast fog brought higher coastal temperatures last 60 years (12/17/2010)

Fog is a common feature along the West Coast during the summer, but a University of Washington scientist has found that summertime coastal fog has declined since 1950 while coastal temperatures have increased slightly.

Fog formation appears to be controlled by a high-pressure system normally present off the West Coast throughout the summer, said James Johnstone, a postdoctoral researcher with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the UW.

«The behavior of that high-pressure cell is responsible for a lot of the weather phenomena we see on the coast,» he said. It can alter water temperature, ocean circulation, surface winds and other factors linked to coastal fog formation.

The fog decline could have negative effects on coastal forests that depend on cool and humid summers, but Johnstone, who presents his findings Monday (Dec. 13) at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, hasn’t seen evidence of that yet.

In fact, climate models indicate that coastal fog should be increasing because of global warming, but he believes that is not happening because of strong influence exerted by regional circulation patterns related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. That climate phenomenon, centered in the North Pacific, has wideranging effects that last for years or even decades rather than for just a year or two.

«You would eventually expect to see significant effects on the coastal forests if the fog continues to decline,» he said.

Johnstone examined records from airports up and down the West Coast that have taken hourly readings on cloud height for the last 60 years. He looked closely at two stations in particular, Monterey on the central California coast and Arcata on the northern California coast, and found that their decline in fog and increase in temperature matched very closely despite being separated by about 300 miles. Both also reflected a great deal of variability.

«During a foggy summer you tend to have cool conditions along the coast and unusually warm temperatures in the interior,» Johnstone said, adding that during less foggy summers coastal areas tend to be warmer than usual and the interior is cooler.

Historically there have been stark temperature differences at times between the coast and areas just a short ways inland. But the differences have been shrinking in recent years, mostly because of rising coastal temperatures, he said. Cooler temperatures typically are located near sea level, and the warmer inland temperatures begin to show up at about 1,300 feet in elevation.

Johnstone found that the contrast between inland and coastal temperatures was much greater from 1900 to 1930 than during the last 60 years, indicating that summers on the coast were much foggier in the early 20th century.

But he notes that while coastal fog has generally declined, the data in general have shown consistent variability. For example, the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle specifically, had record fog frequency in the summer of 2010, and many places along the West Coast recorded their foggiest summer since 1991.

A next step in his work will be to understand the discrepancy between climate models and actual fog observations so that the factors involved in summer fog formation can be better understood.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the University of Washington

Greenland ice sheet flow driven by short-term weather extremes, not gradual warming (12/13/2010)

Sudden changes in the volume of meltwater contribute more to the acceleration — and eventual loss — of the Greenland ice sheet than the gradual increase of temperature, according to a University of British Columbia study.

The ice sheet consists of layers of compressed snow and covers roughly 80 per cent of the surface of Greenland. Since the 1990s, it has been documented to be losing approximately 100 billion tonnes of ice per year — a process that most scientists agree is accelerating, but has been poorly understood. Some of the loss has been attributed to accelerated glacier flow towards ocean outlets.

Now a new study, to be published tomorrow in the journal Nature, shows that a steady meltwater supply from gradual warming may in fact slow down glacier flow, while sudden water input could cause glaciers to speed up and spread, resulting in increased melt.

«The conventional view has been that meltwater permeates the ice from the surface and pools under the base of the ice sheet,» says Christian Schoof, an assistant professor at UBC’s Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences and the study’s author. «This water then serves as a lubricant between the glacier and the earth underneath it, allowing the glacier to shift to lower, warmer altitudes where more melt would occur.»

Noting observations that during heavy rainfall, higher water pressure is required to force drainage along the base of the ice, Schoof created computer models that account for the complex fluid dynamics occurring at the interface of glacier and bedrock. He found that a steady supply of meltwater is well accommodated and drained through water channels that form under the glacier.

«Sudden water input caused by short term extremes — such as massive rain storms or the draining of a surface lake — however, cannot easily be accommodated by existing channels. This allows it to pool and lubricate the bottom of the glaciers and accelerate ice loss,» says Schoof, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Process Modeling.

«This certainly doesn’t mitigate the issue of global warming, but it does mean that we need to expand our understanding of what’s behind the massive ice loss we’re worried about,» says Schoof.

A steady increase of temperature and short-term extreme weather conditions have both been attributed to global climate change. According to the European Environment Agency, ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet has contributed to global sea-level rise at 0.14 to 0.28 millimetres per year between 1993 and 2003.

«This study provides an elegant solution to one of the two key ice sheet instability problems identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their 2007 assessment report,» says Prof. Andrew Shepherd, an expert on using satellites to study physical processes of Earth’s climate, based at the University of Leeds, the U.K.

«It turns out that, contrary to popular belief, Greenland ice sheet flow might not be accelerated by increased melting after all,» says Shepherd, who was not involved in the research or peer review of the paper.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the University of British Columbia

Transcripts of the Institute of British Geography, NS 28. P. 133–141 2003. Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers)

2003. Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Geography: a different sort of discipline?

Ron Johnston,

School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol

Abstract: Debate continues about the inter-relationships between human and physical geography and their different research and publication practices. Relatively little data about these are available, however. Using an analysis of all publications submitted by UK geographers to the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, this paper identifies a substantial difference between human and physical geographers in their publication strategies. Most physical geographers place their research papers in specialized inter-disciplinary journals and make relatively little use of geography outlets: most human geographers, on the other hand, publish in geography journals. Comparisons with other disciplines — in the earth and environmental and social sciences respectively — also identify differences between geographers and their peers. The overall conclusion is that, with regard to research and publication at least, UK geography cannot be presented as a single academic community with strong internal ties, but rather as a conglomerate of separate communities writing for different audiences.

Key words: human and physical geography publications UK audiences

The institutionalization of disciplines

Growth in the number and size of research universities through the twentieth century was accompanied by an increasingly sharp academic division of labour, with the creation of separate disciplines, each offering their own degree courses and research agenda. Many of these had origins in earlier scientific practices, but their formalization as separate identities within universities did not occur until late in the nineteenth century at least, and even for those — like geography — with such roots, full institutionalization did not occur until well into the twentieth century.

The process of institutionalization involved a number of inter-related processes, among the most important of which were: the introduction of degree programmes in the named discipline; the establishment of separate departments named after the discipline and appointment to them of individuals — increasingly those trained in the discipline — to teach on its degree programmes and conduct research in aspects of its subject matter; the creation of professorial chairs in the discipline; and the foundation of learned societies to promote research in the discipline through meetings of various types and the publication of research findings, notably in journals whose contents had been subject to peer review.

For geography in the United Kingdom, these largely occurred in the twentieth century, with the first chairs in the subject, the first honours degree programmes, the creation of the IBG to hold the first conferences of academic geographers, and so forth (Johnston 2003).

Once disciplines have been created and recognized and have an institutional presence, they become the equivalent of defended territories (Becher and Trowler 2001; Johnston 1998). Individual members of the discipline identify with it — they take the title ‘geographer’, for example — and the departments compete for resources, including students, within and between universities. The discipline becomes part of an academic political system, and a major goal for its leaders — as in any bureaucracy — is to advance their discipline’s cause, with expansion frequently a major element in their strategy. In this way, the disciplinary academic division of labour becomes firmly embedded in institutional and intellectual practices and any proposed changes — especially those that may threaten a discipline’s size and power, even its identity — will be resisted, particularly if they involve either nearby rival disciplines or the creation of new ones that appear to be invading the existing disciplinary territory.

Research and publication

Part of the claim to strength and power for any discipline is the quality of its members’ research — a criterion that is also central to career advancement for individual members. Within a discipline’s institutions, therefore, its publication outlets are crucial, since these offer the arena where individuals can report their research findings and win the recognition that is the foundation of career progression. In UK geography there were initially few such outlets, all published by learned societies — the Geographical Journal, Geography and the Transactions, Institute of British Geographers, plus the Scottish Geographical Magazine, the only ‘regional’ journal to flourish within the UK for a long period.

By the 1950s, these were offering insufficient opportunities for publishing the research of the growing number of research-active academics, and new journals were launched outwith the learned societies. The first such non-society journal — Geographical Studies — was a cooperative venture launched by a few ‘dissatisfied’ aspiring geographers: it failed after only five years (Steel 1983).

There were then no further launches until the late 1960s, from when a variety of new journals appeared, almost all of them produced by commercial publishers who realized the potential market opportunities. (The main exception was Area, which began as the IBG’s Newsletter, and was then upgraded to a second refereed journal.)

Some of these new journals were aimed at multidisciplinary markets, in part to ensure market success but also linked to claims for cross-disciplinary interaction; others were aimed at subdisciplinary markets within the discipline, catering for the growing numbers of specialists that reflected the growth, specialization, fragmentation and compartmentalization of the discipline. (Some of the latter were launched by commercial publishers in collaboration with academic organizations, such as the IBG’s Study Groups — as with Earth Surface Processes.)

By the 1990s, therefore, geography — like all large and buoyant disciplines

— had a substantial number of journals in which its researchers could seek to publish their work: some were published by learned societies and edited by their appointees (usually through some relatively transparent process of application if not election); others were published by commercial publishing houses and edited by academics who were, in effect, ‘employed’ by them.

These journals soon became arranged in a form of hierarchy: some were considered more prestigious than others to publish in (and had the reputation of operating more stringent refereeing procedures). And citation data were deployed to show that some had more impact than others, in that the papers which were published there on average received more citations than those in other journals.

One further feature characterized the last decades of the twentieth century — the growing internationalization of science, at least within separate language realms. Academic journals — especially those launched by commercial publishers — were aimed at as wide an audience as possible, largely to promote sales, and many of the new journals were international in their editorial arrangements.

Authors from any country were encouraged to submit their work to such journals, many of which were, however, clearly based in a single country or small group of countries.

By the end of the twentieth century, therefore, most academic disciplines in the English-speaking universities had a range of journals available in which their members’ research findings were published. Some of those journals were considered more prestigious than others, and therefore more desirable targets for publishing papers in. Each discipline had an informal, if far from universallyascribed to, international ranking of journal prestige, and the goal of many researchers was to get their papers accepted by the journals seen as not only the most prestigious but also the most visible — which should therefore increase the number of both potential and actual readers of their work, and hopefully its influence too. Some of those journals may be multi-disciplinary because of their widespread reputation — Nature is the paradigm example in the UK, as is Science in the US. But most journals’ reputation does not extend (far?) beyond their parent discipline, which means that most research papers are circulated within constrained, disciplinary audiences only. Knowledge production and circulation occurs through fragmented publcation media.

Quantifying knowledge circulation in the UK: the RAEs

But is that the case? Is the circulation of knowledge through academic journals largely confined within separate disciplinary containers? And is it the same for all disciplines, even different parts of those disciplines? In particular, does geography conform to the general paradigm, or is it in some ways different?

How might one answer such questions? One source of data for UK geography is the material submitted by individuals, through their departments, to the Research Assessment Exercises (RAEs).

Each ‘research-active’ individual nominates the four publications that he/she considers most representative of her/his highest quality work during the relevant period, and the great majority (certainly in geography and most other sciences and social sciences) nominate papers published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

This material submitted to the 2001 RAE is all now available on the web. Furthermore, it has been analysed — for all Units of Assessment (UoA: i.e. disciplines recognized in the RAE) — by a commercial firm (Evidence Ltd), which has added other data (notably from the ISI’s citation count material). Relevant customized material for their own institution can be purchased by individual universities. One of the tables made available for every UoA lists the top journals by frequency of occurrence of nominated papers, for all institutions being assessed, and separately for those obtaining 5 and 5* grades. A second table lists the 20 journals with the highest ISI impact factors in which one or more papers from the relevant UoA was published.

Where did UK geographers publish?

In total, some 3870 journal articles were nominated by ‘research-active’ geographers included in their institutions’ RAE submissions: these comprised

per cent of all of the items nominated (i.e. less than 10 per cent of the nominated items were books, monographs or other forms of publication).

Twenty-three journals received 20 or more nominations, with their total of 1227 accounting for some 31 per cent of all journal articles nominated. The number of nominations for any one journal ranged from 20 for Economic Geography to 141 for Environment and Planning A: only the latter and Transactions had more than 100 nominations. None had more than 100 nominations from just the 16 departments that were accorded a 5* or 5 grade according to the number of nominations from those departments. There is a significant negative relationship between the total number of nominations from grade 5*/5 departments and the percentage of the total number of nominations for a journal coming from those departments: the more prestigious the journal, the more likely that a scholar nominating a paper in it came from a grade 5* or 5 department. Other features of the journals not included there — such as whether they are commercially published, whether they are based in the UK etc.

Five of the journals are edited and produced by learned societies (even though they are published for the society by a commercial company): they are the three RGS(IBG) journals, plus Regional Studies (produced by the Regional Studies Association, in which geographers have always played major roles and for which they have provided several of the editors since publication started in 1969) and the Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Of the other 18, 17 are produced and published commercially, a few of them (such as Earth Surface Processes and International Journal of Remote Sensing ) being linked to a learned society (the BGRG and the Remote Sensing Society respectively): Economic Geography is published by Clark University.

Only three of the journals are based outside the UK — the Annals, the Journal of Hydrology and Economic Geography — although the lead editor of Environment and Planning D (which is published in the UK) has always been an academic at a North American university. Most of the commercially produced journals have editors based in a number of countries, however.

Of the nine journals which will have almost entirely attracted papers from physical geogra phers — only one, Progress in Physical Geography, is an explicitly geographical journal, though it publishes several papers every year from non-geographers, defined as those lacking an institutional affiliation with a university geography department: in 2001, Volume 25 contained 17 separate papers, 67 per cent of them authored by geographers; all but one of its 12 annual progress reports was authored by a geographer.

Earth Surface Processes was established by an IBG Study Group — the British geomorphological Research Group — but geographers authored only 67 per cent of its papers in 2001 (Volume 26). The other six are explicitly multi-disciplinary journals in which papers from geographers form a minority of the total published, even though several are edited from geography departments in the UK: in Hydrological Processes, for example, only 22 per cent of the papers published in Volume 15 (1–6), 2001, were authored by geographers; in the International Journal of Remote Sensing the comparable figure for Volume 22 (1–10), 2001, was 13 per cent of 130 papers; for the Journal of Hydrology (Volume 227, 2000) it was 8 per cent of 62; for Journal of Quaternary Science (Volume 16, 2001) it was 29 per cent of 64; and for Quaternary Science Reviews (Volume 19, 1–6, 2000) it was 19 per cent of 51.

Excluding the four journals published by geographical learned societies — in three of which the great majority of the papers will have been authored by human geographers (the exception is Geographical Journal) — there are ten the majority of whose papers are by human geographers. Of these, three serve a fairly broad constituency within that subdiscipline (Environment and Planning A, Geoforum, Progress in Human Geography), with only one — Environment and Planning A — attracting a substantial number of articles from outside geography; a further five are oriented largely towards more specialist research communities within human geography (Environment and Planning D, Journal of Historical Geography, Political Geography, Economic Geography and Applied Geography: only the first of these attracts a substantial number of papers from out with eography).

Just two — Regional Studies and Urban Studies — can definitely be described as multi-disciplinary, even though geographers provide substantial numbers of their papers and have edited both.

The last two of these points suggest a clear distinction between the publication strategies of British human and physical geographers, as illustrated by the journals in which they have placed their ‘best four’ papers over a fiveyear period. The majority of physical geography papers have been placed in multi-disciplinary journals — notably in hydrology and quaternary studies — where geographers are minority participants. Their authors seek peer approval outside their institutionalized discipline.

Most human geographers, on the other hand, are publishing their best work in journals aimed mainly at geographers alone, either all geographers (and, in effect, since few physical geographers publish in them, all human geographers) or subdisciplinary groups within human geography. Or, to put it another way, human geographers largely talk among themselves, it seems, while physical geographers prefer to talk to colleagues in other disciplines.

This conclusion is largely sustained by the data in Table II, which lists the 20 journals containing one or more nominated papers by geographers that have the highest impact factors of all journals nominated by geographers.

Only two of these — have more than three papers from geographers. The great majority of them are clearly journals that would be favoured by physical rather than human geographers: apart from some of the medical journals which publish social science material, the list predominantly comprises journals that are open to physical geographers only.

Geography compared: I — human geography and the social sciences

How does the situation in geography compare with that in other disciplines? For human geography I have looked at comparative data for the three ‘mainstream’ large social science disciplines — economics with econometrics, sociology, and political science with international relations. Economics, like geography, is predominantly a journal-based discipline in its publishing, with 96 per cent of its nominated items being journal articles: sociology and political science are less journals-orientated, with 70 and 68 per cent articles, respectively. Each of the three disciplines is substantially smaller than geography: there were 2492 journal articles nominated in economics, 2246 in political science and 1844 in sociology compared to 3870 in geography.The full data are not repeated here, both to save space and because of commercial considerations: instead the main similarities are introduced.

The dominant feature of the 24 journals listed for economics is that all focus on that discipline alone, either generally (as with the Economic Journal and the American Economic Review) or for subdisciplinary communities (as with Econometrica, the Journal of Development Economics and the Journal of Political Economy). Economics, it seems, is a very ‘closed’ discipline — or, economists write only for other economists! — and only one of the 24 journals listed — World Development — can in any way be described as multidisciplinary (it ranks 21st in the list). But that closure is not also parochial. Most of the journals are commercially produced (only five are published by learned societies, although several others involve collaboration between a commercial publisher and a single university department). Over half of them (14) are edited from the United States.

Economists may talk mainly to other economists, therefore, but very much within an international community. Of the top ten journals, five are US-based and another — the European Economic Review — has its focus outwith the UK. By way of contrast, the other two social science disciplines are much more parochial as well as closed. Of the 23 sociology journals listed, for example, only three are produced from the United States: two of them are relatively specialized and multi-disciplinary in their orientation (Science, Technology and Human Values and Research on Language and Social Interaction); the third is Sociological Theory, produced by the American Sociological Association. (The three are relatively low down the list, occupying 11th, 15th and 20th positions, respectively.) All but one of the top ten journals in the list is UK-produced and focused (the exception is the European Sociological Review).

Almost half of the 23 journals are multi-disciplinary, reflecting the external interactions of specialist research communities within sociology (as with Theory, Culture and Society, Journal of Adolescence and British Journal of Criminology), but the top six are all explicitly sociological journals. Unlike the situation in both economics and geography, the top American journals (American Journal of Sociology and American Sociological Review) do not appear in the list. According to the data provided on papers published in highimpact journals, just four papers in American Journal of Sociology were nominated, all of them from grade 5*/5 departments.

The pattern in political science and international relations is very similar to that for sociology, except there is a slightly greater European focus.Of the 21 journals listed, only two — World Development and Research Policy — are US-based, though a further two are explicitly European in their coverage. Fewer of the political science journals nominated are commercially produced (perhaps indicative of a smaller market), and there are few explicitly multi-disciplinary journals. Again, none of the major US journals (American Political Science Review or Journal of Politics, for example) makes the most-nominated list: there were five papers in all published in the American Political Science Review (as indicated by the list of high-impact journals) along with one in the American Sociological Review and one in the Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Human geographers, according to these comparative data, are less parochial than their colleagues in either sociology or political science, therefore: they are more likely to publish in journals with an international focus, and also more likely to place their ‘best’ papers in multi-disciplinary journals.

Economists, on the other hand, are much more international — but also much more of a closed community.

Geography compared: II — physical geography and the earth and environmental sciences

Turning to comparative materials for physical geography, data have been abstracted for two UoAs: Environmental Sciences and Earth Sciences. In both cases, the great majority of the journals listed are international in their scope, with editors (let alone editorial and advisory boards) drawn from several countries.

Earth and environmental scientists are writing for wide communities. USbased journals are clearly seen as highly prestigious, however.

Two of the top four journals nominated from environmental sciences departments are published by the American Geophysical Union (Journal of Geophysical Research — Oceans and Atmosphere, and Geophysical Research Letters), and the sixth and seventh in the list are published by the Geological Society of America and the American Meteorological Society, respectively. (Lower down the list are three more American Meteorological Society journals, and two further productions of the American Geophysical Union.)

The pattern for earth sciences is very similar, with some overlap of journals from the previous list. Of the 22 journals listed, three are published by the American Geophysical Union and two by the Geological Society of America. Both UoAs are explicitly multi-disciplinary, of course, although earth sciences is dominated by geology departments.

Physical geographers, therefore, are akin to their peers in earth and environmental sciences in focusing their publications on international journals that attract papers from a range of scholars. They conform to the norm of universality of science — at least within the English-language realm. Interestingly, however, none of the multi-disciplinary journals listed in Table I as physical geography appear in the lists for earth and environmental sciences. They are occupying different segments of the broad community of international environmental science.

Geography compared: III — geography and psychology

Finally, what of a comparison with the discipline that geography is frequently paired with because both cross the science–social science border (and in many UK universities operate through both faculties) — psychology? The discipline is similar to geography in both size (4861 journal articles nominated) and preponderance of journal articles in the nominated items (96 per cent).

The pattern of journals (25 are listed) is very similar to the science model identified above for physical geography and also for earth and environmental sciences, concentrating on journals focused on specific subdisciplinary specialisms (some of which, such as cognition and perception, are also multidisciplinary), the great majority of which are international in their focus. (Four of the listed journals are published by the American Psychological Association - including two of the top four listed — and another four by the British Psychological Society.)

So is geography different?

We already know the answer to this in a general sense: geography departments

and thus the institutionalized discipline in the UK — involve human and physical geographers working in a collective environment, offering degree courses that, to a greater or lesser extent, combine elements of the two, but at the same time the two groups differ in their research benchmarks and peers.

Physical geographers have increasingly organized their research and consequent publication according to what is seen as the norm for a scientific discipline: human geographers have come to dominate the general geography journals (notably those produced by learned societies such as the RGS(IBG)) as physical geographers have focused their work elsewhere. In addition, human geographers have sought outlets elsewhere, in other social science journals — though mainly in multi-disciplinary journals that they largely dominate — and in specialist journals oriented largely to sub-disciplinary communities within geography.

But how different are the two? Arguments such as that outlined in the previous paragraph have been made many times (much more frequently in discussion and debate than in print) but with little supporting evidence. The publications data from the 2001 RAE for the first time allow some evidence to be collated.

They have shown, very clearly, that the split within the discipline between human and physical geography in publication practices is substantial. Physical geographers seek the approval and interest of their peers in journals that are oriented to different aspects of environmental science, in most of which they are minority contributors only: for them, scientific reputation (and the career advancement that should follow) is largely sought outwith the discipline. This is much less the case with human geographers, whose peer group is very substantially other human geographers: they tend to publish in journals edited by their disciplinary colleagues and in which most of the papers come from geographers too. In this they operate similarly to their colleagues in other social sciences.

But they are much less constrained to a disciplinary territory (albeit subdivided into separate, more specialist cells) than the much more exclusive (though also much more international) economists; and they are much less constrained to writing for relatively parochial (i.e. UK-focused) journals than their colleagues in sociology and political science. Human geographers’ conversations are more confined within their disciplinary territory than those of their physical geography colleagues, but have wider audiences (in several senses of that word) than is the norm elsewhere in UK social science.

In sum, whereas physical geographers tend to converse through their publications with other earth and environmental scientists, human geographers are much more likely to talk among them

selves — or among groups of themselves. Physical geographers are more scientifically extrovert than their human geography colleagues. But human geographers are not entirely isolated: many of their publications have bibliographies that range widely across the social sciences, so that at least some of their papers and books are connecting their discipline to wider intellectual currents.

But the balance of trade, I guess (I have no evidence), is not working in geographers’ favour: they are much more likely, on average, to refer to work by non-geographers than non-geographers are to refer to their work. And does all this matter for the discipline? Much concern is being expressed about fragmentation and centrifugal tendencies within the discipline, however vibrant its various parts (see, for example, Thrift 2002; Clifford 2002; Johnston 2002), and the President of the RGS(IBG) raised concerns about the disappearance of geography as a specially identified discipline with its own department and degree programmes in a number of UK universities during his 2002 Presidential Address (Cooke 2002: a similar shift is almost complete in Australia: Holmes 2002). For those who wish to retain the current morphology of geography departments and degree programmes, and hence its separate identity within the UK’s academic division of labour, there is a continuing need to sustain a political unity while recognizing the very different scientific practices — including publication — that characterize its various parts.

As it stands, geography in the UK is not an exemplar of the paradigm academic discipline, comprising a community occupying and defending a welldefined intellectual territory. It is a whole comprising a range of parts pulling in different directions — something that the data presented here suggest marks it out as substantially different from some of its neighbouring disciplines, especially in the social sciences. That may be a strength — but probably only a strength if the body is carefully managed. As geography researchers we have a wide range of different audiences: what holds us together? For those who defend the unity of geography as an intellectual project, the data presented here raise many difficulties: for those who see it as simply a political project — promoting the benefits, for both, of keeping the two disparate parts together — those data clearly set the parameters for their task.


I am grateful to Nigel Thrift for bringing these data to my attention, to Paul O’Prey for showing me the University of Bristol’s tabulations, to Jonathan Adams of Evidence Ltd for allowing me to use the data reproduced here, and the HEFCE for making the data generally available. Paul Bates, Nick Clifford, Rob Ferguson, Doreen Massey, Martin Siegert, Nigel Thrift and Henry Yeung made very useful comments on a draft, which were much appreciated.


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Becher T and Trowler P R 2001 Academic tribes and territories 2nd edn Open University Press, Buckingham

Clifford N J 2002 The future of geography: when the whole is less than the sum of its parts Geoforum 33 431–6

Cooke R U 2002 Presidential address The Geographical Journal 168 260–3 Gregory K J, Gurnell A M and Petts G E 2002 Restructuring physical

geography Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS27 136–54 Holmes J H 2002 Geography’s emerging cross-disciplinary links: process,

causes, outcomes and challenges Australian Geographical Studies 40 2–20 Johnston R J 1998 Fragmentation round a defended core: the territoriality of

geography The Geographical Journal 164 139– 47

Johnston R J 2002 Reflections on Nigel Thrift’s optimism:political strategies to implement his vision Geoforum 33 421–5

Johnston R J 2003 The institutionalisation of geography as an academic discipline in Johnston R J and Williams Meds A century of British geography Oxford University Press for the British Academy, Oxford

Johnston R J and Thrift N J 1993 Ringing the changes: the intellectual history of Environment and Planning A Environment and Planning A Anniversary Issue 25 14–21

Steel R W 1983 The Institute of British Geographers: the first fifty years Institute of British Geographers, London Thrift N J 2002 The future of geography Geoforum 33 291–8

Naive Geography.

Max J. Egenhofer and David M. Mark

National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. Report 95-8


This paper defines the notion and concepts of Naive Geography, the field of study that is concerned with formal models of the common-sense geographic world. Naive Geography is the body of knowledge that people have about the surrounding geographic world. Naive Geography is envisioned to comprise a set of theories that provide the basis for designing future Geographic Information Systems that follow human intuition and are, therefore, easily accessible to a large range of users.

1. Introduction

Naive Geography is the field of study that is concerned with formal models of the common-sense geographic world. It comprises a set of theories upon which nextgeneration Geographic Information Systems (GISs) can be built. In any case, Naïve Geography is a necessary underpinning for the design of GISs that can be used without major training by new user communities such as average citizens, to solve day-to-day tasks. Such a scenario is currently a dream. Most GISs require extensive training, not only to familiarize the users with terminology of system designers, but also to educate them in formalizations used to represent geographic data and to derive geographic information. Naive Geography is also the basis for the design of intelligent GISs that will act and respond as a person would, therefore, empowering people to utilize GISs as reliable sources, without stunning surprises when using a system. This paper defines the notion and concepts of Naive Geography.

Although various aspects of Naive Geography have been studied for at least 40 years in a piecemeal fashion, Naive Geography has never been addressed comprehensively as a theory of its own. Occasionally, different terms have been used to describe certain aspects of it—Spatial Theory (Frank 1987) , Geographical Information Science (Goodchild 1992), Spatial Information Theory (Frank and Campari 1993), Environmental Psychology, or plain Artificial Intelligence. Aspects of Naive Geography have been also considered within academic geography, and can be found in books by Bunge (1962) or Abler et al.

(1971). By labeling Naive Geography, and distinguishing it from related areas in spatial information theory, geographic information science, and Naive Physics, we intend to catalyze and focus work on some very central issues for these fields, and for artificial intelligence and GIS in general.

Central to Naive Geography is the area of spatial and temporal reasoning. Many concepts of spatial and temporal reasoning have become important research areas in a wide range of application domains such as Physics, Medicine, Biology, and Geography. Particularly the field of Naive Physics (Hayes 1979; 1985a) addresses concerns that appear at a first glance to be very similar to Naive Geography. We will, however, be more specific on the domain, and the types of representation and reasoning by focusing on common-sense reasoning about geographic space and time; subsequently called geographic reasoning.

We argue that such a focus is necessary to treat appropriately the ontological and epistemological differences among the different application domains of spatio-temporal reasoning—their data and their reasoning methods, the way people use these data and interact with them.

Much of Naive Geography should employ qualitative reasoning methods. Note that this notion of qualitative reasoning is distinct from the notion of qualitativeness as it is occasionally used in geography to allude to descriptive rather than analytical methods. In qualitative reasoning a situation is characterized by variables that can only take a small, predetermined number of values (De Kleer and Brown 1984) and the inference rules use these values in lieu of numerical quantities approximating them. Qualitative reasoning enables one to deal with partial information, which is particularly important for spatial applications when only incomplete data sets are available. It is important to find representations that support partial information. Qualitative and quantitative approaches have significantly different characteristics. While quantitative models use absolute values, qualitative models deal with magnitudes, which can sometimes be seen as abstractions from the quantitative details; therefore, qualitative reasoning models can separate numerical analyses from the determination of magnitudes of events which may be assessed differently, depending on the contex in which the particular situation is viewed. This is not to be confused with fuzzy reasoning, which is frequently applied to dealing with imprecise information (Zadeh 1974). Qualitative spatial reasoning is exact, as is its outcome; yet, the resulting qualitative spatial information may be underdetermined, i.e., there is a set of possible values, one of which is the correct result (Morrissey 1990). Qualitative information and qualitative reasoning are not seen as substitutions for quantitative approaches, they are rather complementary methods, which should be applied whenever appropriate. For many decision processes qualitative information is sufficient; however, occasionally quantitative measures, dealing with precise numerical values, may be necessary and that would require the integration of quantitative information into qualitative reasoning. Qualitative approaches allow the users to abstract from the myriad of details by establishing landmarks (Gelsey and McDermott 1990) when «something interesting happens»; therefore, they allow them to concentrate on a few but significant events or changes (De Kleer and Brown 1984).

The remainder of this paper continues with a brief review of Naive Physics (Section 2), and then defines Naive Geography in more detail (Section 3). Section 4 discusses an approach that promises progress toward the development of a Naive Geography. In Section 5, we lay out a sampling of ingredients of a Naive Geography. Section 6 presents

our conclusions and points out some directions for further research.

  1. Naive Physics

«Naive Physics is the body of knowledge that people have about the surrounding physical world. The main enterprises of Naive Physics are explaining, describing, and predicting changes to the physical world.» (Hardt 1992, p. 1147). The term Naive Physics was coined by Patrick Hayes, and introduced in his Naive Physics Manifesto (Hayes 1978), a passionate and visionary statement that provided a catalyst for much research into qualitative methods for spatial and temporal problem solving. It was motivated by the recognition that Artificial Intelligence was—in the late 1970s—full of toy problems:

«Small, artificial axiomatizations or puzzles designed to exercise the talents of various problem-solving programs or representational languages or systems» (Hayes 1978, p. 242). To overcome this limitation, Hayes proposed that researchers should concentrate on

modeling common-sense knowledge.

Related terms and concepts include Intuitive Physics, Qualitative Physics, and CommonSense Physics—some of these terms are more or less synonymous with Naive Physics, whereas others treat similar problems using different approaches. Intuitive Physics (McClosky 1983) addresses people’s thinking about such tasks as dropping an object on a target while walking. Many people demonstrated poor performance in predicting when to release an object, which indicated that their intuitive models of physics may deviate from our current text-book examples of Newtonian Physics. Similarly, Naive Geography may follow Intuitive Physics as it may contradict many of our currently employed models for geographic space and time. Qualitative Physics (De Kleer and Brown 1984; De Kleer 1992) describes models of small-scale space in which objects undergo mechanical operations. A well-investigated example is the attempt to replicate the behavior of an analog clock (Forbus et al . 1991). While Qualitative Physics employs some methods that may be relevant to Naive Geography, it differs because Qualitative Physics usually focuses on the mechanics of a system and excludes human interaction.

Naive Physics by no means excludes geographic spaces. Indeed, Hayes’s (1978) seminal paper on the topic contains examples of lakes and other geographic features; however, the great majority of the work in naive, commonsense, qualitative, and intuitive physics deals with spaces and objects manipulable by people, perceived from a single view point.

There is strong evidence, from a variety of sources, that people conceptualize geographic spaces differently from manipulable, table-top spaces (Downs and Stea 1977; Kuipers 1978; Zubin 1989; Mark 1992a; Montello 1993; Pederson 1993; Mark and Freundschuh 1995). Thus, we think the new term, Naive Geography, is appropriate as part of an attempt to focus the research efforts of theoretical geographers and other spatial information theorists, on formal models of common-sense knowledge of geographic spaces.

  1. Naive Geography: the Notion

In this paper, we are using the notion and concepts of Naive Geography to refer to what might otherwise have been called the Naive Physics of Geographic Space. Modifying Hardt’s (1992) definition of Naive Physics: Naive Geography is the body of knowledge that people have about the surrounding geographic world.

Naive Geography captures and reflects the way people think and reason about geographic space and time, both consciously and subconsciously. Naive stands for instinctive or spontaneous.

Naive geographic reasoning is probably the most common and basic form of human intelligence. Spatio-temporal reasoning is so common in people’s daily life that one rarely notices it as a particular concept of spatial analysis. People employ such methods of spatial reasoning almost constantly to infer information about their environment, how it evolves over time, and about the consequences of changing our locations in space.

Naive geographic reasoning can be, and has to be, formalized so that it can be implemented on computers. As such Naive Geography will encompass sophisticated theories. Naive geographic reasoning may actually contain «errors» and will occasionally be inconsistent. It may be contrary to objective observations in the real, physical world.

These are properties that have been dismissed by the information systems and database communities. The principle of databases has been storage of nonredundant data to avoid potential inconsistencies. Information systems are supposed to provide one answer, one and only one. Naive Geography theories give up some of these restricted views of an information system.

3.1 The Essence of Naive Geography: Geographic Space

Geographic space is large-scale space, i.e., space that is beyond the human body and that may be represented by many different geometries at many different scales. Occasionally, geographic space has been defined as space that cannot be observed from a single viewpoint (Kuipers 1978; Kuipers and Levitt 1988). The intention of this definition was to describe the fact that geographic space comprises more than what a person sees. Of course, this definition falls short the moment one considers hills, towers, skyscrapers, hot-air balloons, airplanes, and satellites from which one can gain a view of much larger portions of space than by standing in a parking lot. A better definition of geographic space might be the space that contains objects that we humans do not think of being manipulable objects.

Geographic space is larger than a molecule, larger than a computer chip, larger than a table-top. Its objects are different from an atom, a microscopic bacterium, the pen in your hand, the engine that drives your car. Geographic space may be a hotel with its many rooms, hallways, floors, etc. Geographic space may be Vienna, with its streets, buildings, parks, and people. Geographic space may be Europe with mountains, lakes and rivers, transportation systems, political subdivisions, cultural variations, and so on. Within such spaces, we constantly move around. We explore geographic space by navigating in it, and we conceptualize it from multiple views, which are put together (mentally) like a jigsaw puzzle. This makes geographic space distinct from small-scale space, or table-top space, in which objects are thought of as being manipulable and whenever an observer lacks some information about these objects, he or she can get this information by moving the object into such a position that one can see, touch, or measure the relevant parts.

3.2. Naive Geography for GIS Design

In addition to the scientific motivation of trying to get a better understanding of how people handle their environments, there is the need to incorporate naive geographic knowledge and reasoning into GISs. The concepts and methods people use to infer information about geographic space and time become increasingly important for the interaction between users and computerized GISs. While many spatial inferences may appear trivial to us, they are extremely difficult to formalize so that they could be implemented on a computer system. Current methods to derive spatial and temporal information about geographic space are limited; therefore, we see a big gap between what a human user wants to do with a GIS, and the spatial concepts offered by the GIS.

Today’s GISs do not sufficiently support common-sense reasoning; however, in order to make them useful for a wider range of people, and in order to allow for prediction or forecasting, it will be necessary to incorporate people’s concepts about space and time /nd to mimic human thinking; therefore, we will focus on common-sense geographic reasoning, reasoning as it is performed by people, reasoning whose outcome makes intuitive sense to people, reasoning that needs little explanation.

In the past, geographic reasoning has been limited to calculations in a Cartesian coordinate space; however, Euclidean geometry is not a good candidate for representing geographic information, since it relies on the existence of complete coordinate n-tuples. Likewise, pictorial representations are inadequate since they overdetermine certain situations, e.g., when drawing a picture representing a cardinal direction, a sketch also includes information about the sizes of the objects and some relative distances. Formalized spatial data models have been extensively discussed in the context of databases and GISs; however, to date there are, for instance, no models for a comprehensive treatment of different kinds of spatial concepts and their combinations that are cognitively sound and plausible. More flexible and advanced methods are needed to capture the results from cognitive scientists’ studies, such as the fact that the nature of errors in people’s cognitive maps is most often metrical and only rarely topological (Lynch 1960), or how topological structure (Stevens and Coupe 1978) or gestalt are used for spatial reasoning. Researchers have identified different types of spaces with related inference methods (Piaget and Inhelder 1967; Golledge 1978; Couclelis and Gale 1986).

GISs need to include such intelligent mechanisms to deal with often complex spatial concepts. If GISs can achieve geographic reasoning in a manner similar to a human expert, these systems will be much more valuable tools for a large range of users—family members who are planning their upcoming vacation trip, scientists who want to analyze their data collections, or business people who want to investigate how they performed in various geographic markets.

3.3. What Naive Geography is Not

Naive Geography is neither arm-chair science, nor does it employ MickeyMouse research. Likewise, Naive Geography is neither childish nor stupid geography, nor is it the geography of ignorant or simple-minded people. It is not geography by the uneducated nor for the uneducated. Despite the attempts to capture human performance, naive geographic reasoning does not aim at being descriptive, neither in its methodologies nor in its results and interpretations. And it is not just another term for fuzzy reasoning, nor is fuzzy reasoning a substitute for Naive Geography—it might have its value as one of several methods for naive geographic reasoning, though. Finally, Naive Geography is not a replacement for GIS.

Naive Geography and Related Disciplines Naive Geography is not a completely new discipline. Quite the opposite, it is closely related to several of our current scientific and engineering disciplines, and builds upon them. Geography is the most obvious discipline—it is part of the name Naive Geography. Geography is the science concerned with relationships, processes, and patterns of our surrounding world, and as such it addresses at a coarse level the kind of issues we are concerned with. At a more detailed level, the domainspecific fields contribute to Naïve Geography. They include geology, archeology, economics, and transportation as they describe particular domain knowledge that shapes the users’ and analysts’ mental models and therefore, often enable inference that is otherwise impossible.

These geographic disciplines are not the only relevant fields for Naive Geography. Naïve Geography has to employ concepts and principles of cognitive science and linguistics to ensure a linkage with the way people perceive geographic space and time, and the ways they communicate about them. Naive Geography is associated with anthropology as it has to accommodate regional and cultural particularities in how people deal with geographic space and time. There is the field of psychology upon which Naive Geography builds.

And philosophy may contribute to Naive Geography as Aristotle’s, Kant’s, or Leibnitz’s views of space frame many of the discussions about the nature of Naive Geography.

Finally, there are the fields that provide us the tools to express and formalize naïve geographic knowledge: engineering as it pertains to the modeling of geographic information, from measurements about the Earth to GIS user interface design, as well as computer science and mathematics. This scanning of relevant fields is certainly incomplete, and there may be many others whose findings and influences may be even more dramatic than those listed here. There are many who contribute—as there are many who will benefit.

4. Towards the Development of Naive Geography

Naive Geography has to bridge between different scientific perspectives; therefore, in order to investigate naive geographic concepts, researchers have to combine different research methodologies. It will be the interplay between the different approaches that will provide the exciting and useful results.

The framework for developing Naive Geography consists of two different research methodologies: (1) the development of formalisms of naive geographic models for particular tasks or sub-problems so that programmers can implement simulations on computers; and (2) the testing and analyzing of formal models to assess how closely the formalizations match human performance. For Naive Geography, the two research methods are only useful if they are closely integrated and embedded in a feedback loop to ensure that (1) mathematically sound models are tested (bridging between formalism and testing) and (2) results from tests are brought back to refine the formal models (bridging between testing and implementable formalisms). The outcome of such a complete loop

leads to refined models, which in turn should be subjected to new, focused evaluations. In an ideal scenario, this leads to formal models that ultimately match closely with human perception and thinking. From the refinement process we may gain new insight into common-sense reasoning and we may actually derive certain reasoning patterns. The latter—the generic rules—would manifest naive geographic knowledge. Research in the area of spatial relations provides an example in which the combination and interplay of different methods generates useful results. The treatment of spatial relations within Naive Geography must consider two complementary sources: (1) the cognitive and linguistic approach, investigating the terminology people use for spatial concepts (Talmy 1983; Herskovits 1986; Retz-Schmidt 1988) and human spatial behavior, judgments, and learning in general; and (2) the formal approach concentrating on mathematically based models, which can be implemented on a computer (Egenhofer and Franzosa 1991; Papadias and Sellis 1994; Hernández 1994). The formalisms serve as hypotheses that may be evaluated with human-subject testing (Mark et al. 1995).

5. Some Elements of Naive Geography

The mere identification of a comprehensive set of elements of Naive Geography comprises a major research task, and its completion would provide a big step towards the successful manifestation of Naive Geography. As a starting point, we present an ad hoc collection of elements that would contribute to a Naive Geography. The list is by no means exhaustive, and some of the following may turn out to be false, or at least uncommon and/or limited to specific cultures, primarily those of the authors. We present these elements to give the reader a flavor of what we intend should be included in Naïve Geography.

Naive Geographic Space is Two-Dimensional

Manipulable objects on a table-top are essentially three-dimensional. Even a sheet of paper has a thickness. Furthermore, in everyday-object (manipulable) space, the three dimensions are all about equal. Objects are easily rotated about any axis, or obliquely.

When an object is moved, we expect its properties, spatial and non-spatial, to remain unchanged.

Geographic space under Naive Geography is, in contrast, essentially twodimensional. There is considerable evidence that the horizontal and vertical dimensions are decoupled in geographic space. For example, people often grossly over-estimate the steepness of slopes, and the depths of canyons compared to their widths. So, instead of parsing a three-dimensional space into three independent one-dimensional axes, geographic spaceseems to be interpreted as a horizontal, two-dimensional space, with the third dimension reduced more to an attribute (of position) rather than an equal dimension. This is very much like the 2 1/2-D representations used in computational vision (Marr 1982). That GISs have succeeded in the marketplace with little or no capabilities to do threedimensional analysis is testimony to the nature of geographic space. A two-dimensional system for CAD (computer-aided design) would not likely be successful.

5.2. The Earth is Flat

This is a different point than the one about two-dimensionality. In most of our large-scale reasoning tasks, this is a common simplification. It is not a discussion as to whether it is admissible, or not. People do it. When traveling from Boston to New York, one disregards the Earth’s curvature. This is independent of the mode of transportation. Trans-Atlantic air travelers often ask why the flight path goes all the way up over Greenland, rather than going straight across—the great circle, shortest path between two points across the surface of a sphere, is not part of common-sense knowledge for most people.

5.3. Maps are More Real Than Experience

Perhaps this point should be, «Maps are more faithful to the reality of geographic space than are our direct experiences of such spaces.» Many times, we hear statements like, «When I get home, I want to look at the route on a map, to see where I went.» This seems to be based on a naive assumption that the truth about where one is in geographic space is better represented by a mapbased, map-like, or configurational view of geographic space, than it is by our memories of our experiences with that space from within.

5.4. Geographic Entities are Ontologically Different from Enlarged TableTop


As geographic space differs from table-top space, so are the properties and the behavior of many entities in geographic space different from those on a table top. The issue is not just mere size. In his paper Ontology of Liquids, Hayes (1985b) gave an excellent example with a detailed discussion of how the ontology of lakes is different from that of many other objects composed of liquids. He showed how a phenomenon/entity in geographic space has an ontology that is not simply an enlarged version of the table-top manipulable world.

5.5. Geographic Space and Time are Tightly Coupled

The linkage between space and time is an aspect of Naive Geography that deserves special attention. The term geographic space and time is understood such that geographic distributes over space and time—formalists would tend to write geographic (space and time). As there is geographic space, we want to argue that there is geographic time, i.e., time that is inherently linked to geographic concepts (Egenhofer and Golledge 1994). We select one of several examples to underline this claim:

Many cultures have pre-metric units of area that are based on effort over time (Kula 1983). The English acre (Jones 1963; Zupko 1968; 1977), the German morgen (Kennelly 1928), and the French arpent (Zupko 1978) all are based on the amount of land that a person with a yoke of oxen or a horse can plow in one day or one morning. There have been similar measures for distance, such as how far a person can walk in an hour, or how far an army can march in a day. We know of no such «effort-based» units of measure for manipulable (table-top) space.

5.6. Geographic Information is Frequently Incomplete

Another setting for geographic reasoning is given by the constraint that reasoning in geographic space must typically deal with incomplete information. Nevertheless, people can draw sufficiently precise conclusions, e.g., by completing information intelligently or

by applying default rules, frequently based on common sense. A number of cognitive studies have provided evidence that people may employ hierarchically organized schemes to reason in geographic space and to compensate for missing information (Hirtle and Jonides 1985; McNamara et al . 1989).

5.7. People use Multiple Conceptualizations of Geographic Space

When thinking about geographic space, people typically employ several different concepts, and change between them frequently. Such conceptualizations of space may reflect the differences between perceptual and cognitive space (Couclelis and Gale 1986), or may be based on different geometrical properties, such as continuous vs. discrete (Egenhofer and Herring 1991; Frank and Mark 1991). The dependency on scale, or difference in the types of operations people would typically employ, has been raised as another motivation for distinguishing different types of spaces (Zubin 1989).

5.8. Geographic Space has Multiple Levels of Detail

This aspect of representing geographic space is orthogonal to multiple conceptualizations of geographic space. A conceptualization of geographic space may have several levels of granularity, each of which will be appropriate for problem solving at different levels of detail. In cartographic applications, this aspect has been considered to be part of scale (Buttenfield 1989). The naive view of geographic space implies that processing a query against a more detailed representation would not provide a more precise query result.

5.9. Boundaries are Sometimes Entities, Sometimes Not

The fact that Naive Geography models geographic space as it is perceived by people, is strongly reflected in the way boundaries are represented. There is no uniform view of what a boundary is and how it is established—even if one could agree on a model for the physical entities. Such simple configurations as national boundaries may have diverse interpretations, even if the countries involved agree over the extent of their territories.

Conventionally, political subdivisions are modeled as a partition of space in which a boundary separates one nation’s land from its neighbor. Each of the neighbors may actually have a different perspective, namely that the boundary belongs to their country.

As such, the boundary between two neighboring countries may be considered a pair of boundaries. Smith (1994) argues, from a philosophical point of view, that there may be geographic situations in which the boundary between two adjacent areas is even asymmetric. As examples he cites situations in which one country did not recognize the existence of a national boundary with its neighbor, while the other country considered it a valid boundary. Political subdivisions are certainly not the only cases in which such multiple views of boundaries may occur. The same case could be made for land parcels and the question as to who owns the boundary between two adjacent parcels.

5.10. Topology Matters, Metric Refines

In geographic space, topology is considered to be first-class information, whereas metric properties, such as distances and shapes, are used as refinements that are frequently less exactly captured. There is ample evidence that people organize geographic space such that topological information is retained fairly precisely, capturing such relationships as inclusion, coincidence, and left/right (Lynch 1960; Stevens and Coupe 1978; Riesbeck 1980).

5.11. People have Biases Toward North-South and East-West Directions People’s mental maps of directions and distances are frequently quite gross

simplifications, with particular preferences for alignments in North-South and East-West directions. Despite exposure to maps and satellite images, we often ignore geographic reality. For instance, at a global scale, South America often is considered to be due south of North America. Likewise, most people misjudge latitudes when trying to compare cities in North America and Europe (Tversky 1981). While such misconceptions are similar to those found by Stevens and Coupe (1978), they cannot be explained with a hierarchical conceptualization of geographic space. A potential source for some of these errors are climate comparisons, and the equation (for the Northern hemisphere) that colder means further North, and warmer equates to further South, may indicate that factors other than geographic location may influence estimations of directions.

Biases toward strict cardinal directions appear also in judgments about coastlines—the U.S. East coast is frequently believed to be due North-South (Mark 1992b). Such misconceptions may have surprising consequences when people interact with information systems. For example, most people requesting the satellite image South of the State of Maine from an image archive, would expect to receive an image that covers parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts (Frank 1992). They would be puzzled to get nothing but water!

People tend to have similar biases towards North-South directions and right angles in navigation, where they may be irritated by slight deviations from the norm and consequently perform poorly in wayfinding.

5.12. Distances are Asymmetric

Euclidean geometry includes the axiom that a distance from point A to point B is equal to the distance from B to A. In naive geographic space, this premise is frequently violated. Distances are not only thought of as lengths of paths on the Earth’s surface, but frequently seen as a measure for how long it takes to get from one place to another (Kosslyn et al. 1978). The shortest path may have multiple interpretations, e.g., in terms of distance, time, fuel consumption, or toll. Even if the same path, in opposite directions, is chosen between two points, the distance as people perceive it may not be the same (Golledge et al. 1969): terrain may influence how fast one can travel or traffic during rush hours may slow down travel in one direction.

While distance applies as a measure between positions in geographic space, it extends to abstract concepts where it captures conceptual closeness. For example, among water bodies, a pond is conceptually closer to a lake than to the sea, because one can find more conceptual differences between a pond and the ocean than between a pond and a lake.

The shorter the distance is, the more similar the instances are. Again, such distances among concepts are frequently asymmetric, implying that the induced similarity is asymmetric as well (Papadias 1995), i.e., if A is similar to B, then B is not necessarily similar to A.

5.13. Distance Inferences are Local, Not Global

Geographic distances are thought of as local, i.e., covering the neighborhood between the two points of interest, without involving locations remote to both objects. Common coordinate systems, however, have their origins at the equator, and distance differences are calculated as differences of lengths from the equator and from Greenwich. How far it is from Bangor, Maine to Orono, Maine is based on how distant Bangor and Orono are from the equator, and how remote Bangor and Orono are from Greenwich, U.K. (Goodchild 1994). In a similar way, any distinction about North, South, East, and West is related on the reference frame’s (remote) origin. Despite the convenience of such coordinate calculations, alternative spatial reference systems are needed in support of Naive Geography. Such reference systems should pay attention to neighborhood relations, as demonstrated in measurement-based systems (Buyong et al . 1991), or use coordinate-based calculations as a last resort of inference, as supported by deductive geographic databases (Sharma et al . 1994).

5.14. Distances Don’t Add Up Easily

Reasoning about distances along networks in geographic space underlies formalisms that differ considerably from standard calculus. Usually, one adds up lengths of segments along a path, irrespective of their values, to obtain the length of the entire path. This method provides unreasonable results in cases where the values to be added differ by large amounts. For instance, the distance between the airports in Bangor, Maine and Santa Barbara, California is approximately 5,000 kilometers. When computing the travel distance from the University of Maine to UC Santa Barbara, it would make little sense to add the relatively short legs between the campuses and the respective airports—10 kilometers and 1.5 kilometers—to the overall distance and claim that it took 5,011.5 kilometers to get from one campus to the other.

6. Conclusions

This paper described the notion and concepts of Naive Geography. Naive Geography establishes the link between how people think about geographic space and how to develop formal models of such reasoning that can be incorporated into software systems. Such intelligent GISs—one or two generations down the road—would be intuitive to use and would provide powerful reasoning capabilities and some limited methods to make predications of human behavior. Like Patrick Hayes in his Naive Physics Manifesto, we consider our framework as a start of a discussion, to be revised in the future.

Common-sense reasoning is difficult, and if there are formalizations that appear to be common-sensical, then they are excellent results. Unfortunately, our scientific communities frequently consider such formalizations as «too simplistic»—because everyone understands them, and science should have some complexity to be considered science. We disagree with this attitude at the level of common-sense reasoning. If it is simple and solves the problem, then it is good.

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