In the earth sciences

Earth Science Cartography

The cartographic sciences are geodesy, surveying, photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS) and, of course, mathematics and statistics. In recent years, multimedia and virtual reality became part of the cartographic experience. These are all separate, though somewhat overlapping, disciplines, and they share an intimate relationship with cartography; indeed some have their own cartographic components. A working acquaintance with these fields is an essential part of the education of the modern cartographer.


Geodesy is a very specialized science concerned with determining the shape and size (the ‘figure’) of the earth–not the solid earth, but the geoid, the surface defined by mean sea level–and establishing a framework of points whose locations are known very precisely in terms of latitude and longitude. This is achieved in two ways, by studying the earth’s gravitational field and by conducting very high-accuracy surveying operations. At one time, such work was entirely ground-based, but satellite observations are now routine. Geodesy plays a fundamental role in cartography, for in order to map the earth, it is obviously necessary to know how big and what shape it is and to have reference points of known locations on its surface.


If geodesy is unfamiliar to most people, surveying is quite the opposite, for almost everyone has seen the surveyor at work on city streets with transit, level or distance meter. There are many branches of surveying, including engineering surveys (carried out in connection with construction projects), cadastral surveys (concerned with property boundaries), hydrographic surveys (depicting water bodies) and mine surveys (outlining what is underground). The relation between surveying and cartography is very close indeed, and the end-product of the surveyor’s work is often a map of some sort. One branch of surveying–topographic surveying– has the production of maps as its express aim. Surveying, like cartography, has undergone major changes in recent years, but none so dramatic as those being brought about by Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

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The "Peters" world map projection

by Achernar

I'm reading "Flattening the Earth" by John Snyder, and it confirms something I've thought for a long time. So I'm doing my part to set the record straight.
In 1973 Arno Peters claimed to have invented a perfect map projection. In fact, he didn't create it, and it's not perfect.
The class of projections that Peters' falls into (cylindrical equal-area) had been known about and used for centuries, and the one he made specifically (cylindrical equal-area with standard latitude 45°) is identical to one made in 1885 by James Gall.
This projection is equal-area, yes, but it does not, as Peters claimed, preserve angles, shapes, or distances

7 Game of Thrones Apps That Will Get You Through the Much-awaited Winter  — Gizmodo India
.. or Winterfell, you get a dialog box, which asks you to buy more maps. Unfortunately, you can't dismiss the dialogue box, leading to the obstruction of the cartography. ..

Flagstaff's rocky lava field became a little piece of the moon  — azcentral
If American know-how could put a man on the moon, the man should bring back rocks to study. The government agreed, and in 1963, the .. Volcanoes were chosen because of the moon's volcanic history, the test site for its impact craters.

Missing in Alaska without a trace  — Anchorage Daily News
The official version of events, according to a still active missing person's bulletin from the Alaska State Troopers is that Griffis went into the wild "to test out a survival 'cocoon' that he had invented.

Popular Q&A

Dou you think cartography has been important for the development of makind?

Absolutely -- otherwise there would be a lot of lost people!

What drove early developments in cartography?

exploration of unknown lands

What influence the development of cartography?

The invention of an accurate clock. This enabled the people in the 1500's and on to determine the length of their position (degrees E or W). In order to be able to do so, one needs to know the exact time at a known position. Once they were able to do this, drawing a good map was possible. Refer to Umberto Eco's book called: L' Isola del giorno prima (Island of the first day), that explains it in layman's terms. The sextant already enabled people to determine the breadth of their position (degrees N or S).

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