Cartography in its most basic sense is map making, and cartographers continue to generate maps of all sorts for a variety of industries. Increasingly, these maps are computer generated, making use of advanced graphic software. The U.S. government continues to hire cartographers for several of its agencies, namely the U.S. Geological Survey, the Census Bureau, and the Defense Mapping Agency. The private sector, too, employs cartographers for the production of a wide range of maps and atlases.
Remote sensing involves the interpretation and analysis of aerial photographs and a growing body of satellite imagery. Especially when grounded in a firm understanding of earth science (physical geography, geology, and biology), remote sensing analysis provides rapid and accurate information on vegetation, soils, erosion, tectonics, transportation, and land use. Due to the widespread use of remotely sensed images in small-scale mapping, there is a natural overlap with cartography.
Geographic information systems (or GIS) are perhaps the newest and most revolutionary tools available to the geographer. Put simply, a GIS is a computer application that combines an information database with mapping capability, allowing for the storage, display, analysis, and printing of spatial information. With a GIS, the geographer can view and compare various data layers (demography, economics, ethnicity, soils, vegetation, hydrology, highways, etc.) with spatial references, finding, for instance, suitable locations for landfills or businesses. GIS, rather than being a subfield of geography itself, finds application across the discipline, with heavy use in environmental management, land use planning, business geography, medical geography, and urban geography. Even cultural and political geographers are finding GIS valuable in their work.
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||If you have any questions about this concentration please contact Prof. Jon T. Kilpinen.|