Geographical Terms

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Gliese 581 G

Astronomers have discovered a planet of similar size to Earth in orbit around a nearby star called Gliese 581g, which is located in prime real estate within the constellation Libra. The discovery of the most Earth – like planet with about three times the Earth’s mass orbiting the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581g has been announced by the astronomers. The planet lies in the star’s ‘Goldilocks zone’, the region where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface. In cosmic terms, the new planet is virtually our next – door neighbor. It circles a dim red star, Gliese 581 that’s only 20 light – years away. It also appears to have an atmosphere, gravity like our own and could well be capable of life. This new planet takes 37 days to orbit the star once, and orbits at a distance about 1 / 6 the distance of the Earth from the Sun. The researchers will report in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal that Gliese 581g contains only about 30% of the sun’s mass and shines with only about 1% of its brightness.

Geographical Terms

Abrasion : The wearing away of the earth’s surface by natural agencies such as wind, water etc.

Ablation : Loss of ice in the body of a glacier through melting.

Abyssal : Lowest depth of oceans.

Accretion : The gradual building up of water – borne material such as mud and sand in an area that is regularly flooded.

Advection : The term used to refer to the movement of warm air from tropical to temperate latitudes or from sea to land.

Afforestation : Planting of trees on barren land or transforming an area into forest.
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Agglomerate : A mass of broken rocks or lumps of lava thrown out by a volcano and cemented to form ash.

Airmass : A mass of air, more or less homogeneous in character, in terms of temperature, pressure and humidity conditions.

Alpines : The typical plants of high mountain slopes, called so because they grow in profusion on the upper slopes of the Alps.

Alps : The central, greatest mountain system of Europe, consisting of an arc of fold mountains running about 800 km. Its highest peak is Mont Blanc, 4810 m.

Altiplano : A high plain in the Andes mountains Specially it refers to a barren plateau 3960 m above the sea level in Bolivia.

Altitude : ( i ) Height or elevation of a place measured above sea level ( usually measured in feet or m ). ( ii ) Angular distance measured vertically, e.g., heavenly body above the horizon. Since sea level is continuously changing with the tides, a standard sea level at Liverpool has been fixed as the mean sea level. This is the zero line from which the height of a place is measured ( see Mean sea level ).

Altocumulus : A cloud formation made up of small, round, white or grey clouds massed closely together at a height of 2500 – 6000 m.

Altostratus : A type of cloud that forms a thick, greyish blue sheet or veil at a height of about 2000 – 6000 m. Sometimes it produces heavy rain.

Alluvium : Fine debris transported and deposited by a river.

Anabatic Wind : Warm wind that blows upwards in steep sided valleys in early morning.

Andes : The mountain system which extends from north to south of South America along the Pacific coast measuring about 8000 km and forms the backbone of that continent. Its highest peak is Ojos del Salado, 7084 m. It is the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere and the second largest mountain range in the world.

Anticline and Syncline : An anticline is a fold with strata sloping downwards on both sides from a common crest to form an arch. The top of the arch, being pressed upward, is the loosest and weakest part and as such is quickly eroded. A syncline is a low trough like area in bedrock with rocks inclined together from opposite sides. The rocks at the lowest part are under great pressure from all sides; they become compact and hard and erode slowly.

Antipodes : Place(s) that are diametrically opposite each other. People in Britain sometimes call Australia and New Zealand the ‘Antipodes’ because they are at the opposite end of the earth. At the antipodes, both the seasons and day and night are reversed. While one place experiences winter, the other faces summer. Change of season, however, does not apply to the antipodes of equatorial regions. The antipodes of any place on the equator is also on the equator, and so has exactly the same season. While it is noon at one place it is midnight at the other. The antipodes of any region, being at the opposite side of the world, differ from one another by 12 hours in time.

Antarctic : Southern – most part of the earth which surrounds the South Pole. It is the part where the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal meet.

Anticyclone : An anticyclone occurs when winds blow outward from high pressure region at the centre towards the low pressure region round it. The winds blow spirally outwards in a clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and an anti­clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere.

Arctic : Northern – most part of the earth which surrounds the North Pole. Due to severe cold, most of its part remains frozen throughout the year.

Atoll : A coral reef in the shape of a horse shoe or ring with a lagoon in the centre, e.g., Murora Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, Funafutti in Suva.

Alluvial soil and Black soil : Alluvial soil is that soil which is formed by deposition of silts brought down by the rivers.

Aphelion : The point in its orbit at which a heavenly body or planet is farthest form the sun. The earth at this point ( July 4 ) is about 94 million miles ( 151 million km ) form the sun ( see Perihelion ).

Appleton Layer : A layer in the ionosphere about 241 km high, that reflects radio waves back to the earth. It is named after Sir Edward Appleton, the physicist who discovered it ( see Ionosphere ).

Apogee : A heavenly body’s point of greatest distance from the earth; the sun’s greatest meridional altitude.

Arable Land : Land that is used for growing crops or is suitable for cultivation.

Archipelago : A group of islands in large expanse of water.

Arete : Sharp narrow ridge separating two glacier troughs. The typical ‘U’ shaped cross sections of troughs give aretes very steep sides. Ex. Rockies, Himalayas, Alps.

Artesian Basin : When a basin – shaped layer of porous rock on the earth’s crust is trapped between layers of non – porous rock, water accumu – lates in the porous rock forming an artesian basin.
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Artesian Well : Artesian well is made by boring down to saturated layers of rock in an artesian basin.

Asthenosphere : Soft semifluid layer of rock on which the earth’s continents and ocean floors float. The asthenosphere is a part of the earth’s mantle, the rest of which is solid both above and below.

Asteroids : Are minor planets. They are small bodies which revolve round the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Attrition : The constant wearing down of pieces of rock into even finer particles as they are carried of along by wind, water or ice.

Aurora Borealis : beams of many coloured light quivering in the sky in the northern hemisphere. Similar light seen in the southern hemisphere is called Aurora Australis.

Avalanche : Great mass of snow or ice. It splits off in summer and goes down on slope of the mountain at great speed. At times it causes severe damage.

Axis of the Earth : An imaginary line through the earth round which the earth spins ( rotates ) once in 24 hours. The earth’s axis runs from the North to the South pole. It is inclined to the place at an angle of 23½°. The equator is the circumference of the earth half – way between the poles.

Azimuth : ( i ) A horizontal bearing measured clockwise from a given direction; ( ii ) The horizontal angular distance from a fixed reference direction to a position, object or object referent, as to a great circle intersecting a celestial body, usually measured clockwise in degrees along the horizon from a point due south.

Azoic : The term literally means ‘without life’; and refers to the earliest part of the Pre – Cambrian Era, when there was no animal life on the earth ( see Pre – Cambrian Era ).

Backing : An anticlockwise change in the direction of the wind, e.g. from north to north – west ( see Veering ).

Basalt : A dark volcanic, fine – grained rock which often occurs in sheets of great thickness formed by the solidification of lava.

Bayou : A marshy creek found in flat country, e.g., along the lower reaches of the Mississippi river in the USA.

Beach : A gently sloping strip of land along the coast.

Bedrock : Solid, unweathered rock lying beneath the soil and subsoil.

Bergschrund : Deep crevasse that may found at the head of a glacier.

Bill : A long narrow cape or headland jutting into the sea ( see Cape, Headland, Peninsula, Point ).

Biosphere : The organic life on earth both animate and inanimate.

Blizzard : A violent windstorm accompanied by intense cold and driving, powdery snow or ice crystals. It occur in Antartic region.

Bog : An area of water – logged, spongy ground with rotting vegetation lying on the surface. Eventually the layer turns into a layer of peat ( see Peat, Marsh ).

Bora : A cold and dry wind which blows along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea and northern Italy in winter.

Butte : A flat – topped hill found in relatively flat terrain.

Buys Ballot’s Law ( 1857 ) : This law states that in the northern hemisphere the winds move anticlockwise round centres of low pressure and clockwise round centres of high pressure; the reverse being true for the southern hemisphere.
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Cascade : A series of small waterfalls flowing down a bed resembling stairs.

Cataract : It is a large waterfall or a series of waterfalls, as on the Nile.

Canyon : It is a gorge, formed by a river cutting through the soft rocks of a deep narrow valley with steep sides.

Cape : The point of ending of land which extends the sea, e.g., Cape Comorin.

Cartography : The art of drawing maps and charts.

Cirrus : A type of high cloud with wispy and fibrous – looking bands.

Cliff : A steep rock face. Cliffs on the sea coast are formed by the wearing away action of the waves and canyon cliffs are cut by deep rivers. Glaciers also grind out cliffs between mountain sides.

Climate : The average of weather conditions of a place or region through the seasons.

Clinometer : An instrument used for determining the difference in elevation between two points.

Cloud : A mass of tiny water droplets or ice crystals formed by condensation of water vapour in atmosphere.

Cloud Burst : A phenomenon in which a huge mass of moisture – carrying cloud bursts into a heavy downpour on account of condensation of its entire volume of water vapour at the same time.

Constellation : Group of stars moving together such as the Great Bear and the Scorpion.

Convection : The uplift of air as a result of surface heating or instability due to other reasons.

Coniferous forest : A forest of evergreen coniferous or conebearing trees carrying needle shaped leaves. Soft wood timber is obtained from these forests. They are found mostly in Canada and Europe.

Contours : Lines connecting places of equal heights above sea level in a map.

Coral : A small invertebrate animal found in high seas. They are united together to form coral reef.

Coral reef : A chain of rocks at or near the sea. Fragments of shells, coral, sand, etc., piled up by winds and waves from coral reef.

Confluence : The meeting of two or more rivers at a place.

Continental Climate : The climate occurring in the interior part of the continent.

Continental Shelf : A part of land submerged under the sea. The depth is about 100 fathoms. It is a rich ground for fishing.

Continental Slope : A continental shelf extends into the sea as a continental slope, descending to a depth of 2,000 fathoms ( see Continental Shelf )

Comets : Luminous celestial bodies moving round the sun.

Crops Rotation : If the same crop is cultivated, the land may remain vacant for months and lose fertility. To offset both these, a variety of crops are cultivated on the same land. This is known as rotation of crops.

Cordillera : A name given specifically to the mountain range of the Andes in South America and the other great ranges in North America. The word ‘cordillera’ is derived from the Spanish word meaning ‘chain’.

Coriolis Force : The force exerted on the atmosphere by earth’s rotation.

Crater : Is the small mouth of a volcano. It is usually cup – shaped and serves as a vent for lava to flow out of the volcano.

Crater Lake : A lake formed in the crater of a volcano. Example : Lonar lake in Boodhana district ( Maharashtra ).

Creek : A small stream; a smaller inlet or tidal estuary of a river.

Cumulonimbus : A heavy dark thunderstorm cloud towering upwards with a depth of about 15,000 feet. It is spread out aloft in the form of an angle. It indicates the oncoming of rains.

Cyclones : The winds which blow from outward high pressure area towards the inward low pressure areas are cyclones.

Dateline or International Dateline : The line situated 180° meridian from Greenwich. A ship while crossing the line eastward goes forward by a day while towards westward it goes backwards by a day.

Deciduous Forests : It consists of trees having broad leaves. They shed leaves in autumn. The forests are found in temperate region.

Deccan Trap : It is the old name of the Deccan lavas, an extensive series of basaltic lava deposits several thousand feet thick which cover nearly an area of two lakh square miles in the north – west of Deccan.

Delta : A triangular shaped piece of land formed at the mouth of the river by deposition of mud and silt brought by the river.

Denudation : Wearing away of earth by natural agencies.

Depressed Seas : Large inland seas. These levels are low and inflow of water is less, e.g., Dead Sea.

Dew : Moisture deposited on exposed objects by condensation of water vapour. The formation of dew is more during clear cloudless nights.

Doldrums : The regions lying in between 5° N and 5° S of Equator where the air is rising and pressure is low. Calm prevails for weeks. It is suddenly broken by winds. It is the region of high humidity and uncomfortable temperature.

Downs : Temperate grasslands of Australia.

Dunes : Sand dunes generally found in deserts, are elliptical or crescent – shaped mounds of loose sand formed by wind action. A dune has a gentle slope on the wind – ward side and a steep slope on the leeward side.

Dust Devil : A dusty whirl wind. Low pressure at the centre and strong vertex winds cause dust and small debris to be carried upwards making the whirl appear as a vertical tube or funnel. It forms over strongly heated barren lands of deserts.

Earthquakes : Movements of the earth’s crust. These may be caused by volcanic eruption, the sudden generation and expansion of steam, actual sinking of portion of the crust or by breaking of the strata under the strain of contraction caused by the cooling of earth’s crust.

Escarpment : A steep inland cliff. An escarpment is found where layers of hard rock slope upwards to the surface over softer rocks below.

Estuary : A channel formed by mixing of sea and river water, e.g., Thames Estuary.

Epicentre : The point at which the earthquake breaks out.

Equator : An imaginary line encircling the earth at equal distance from the poles. The parts of the earth on the north and on the south are known as northern and southern hemispheres respectively.

Equigravisphere : The locus of a point where the gravity does not change. It is almost a spherical surface around the earth.

Equinox : The time or date twice in a year at which the sun crosses the celestial equator when day and night are equal length. When it occurs the sun is vertical over the Equator on these dates. On 21st March and on 22nd September the days and nights are equal. The equinox on March 21 is known as vernal or spring equinox and 22nd September is known as autumnal equinox.

Esker : Winding steep walled ridge formed beneath a glacier. It is made up of sands and gravels and represents the source of a sub – glacial river channel.

Exosphere : The uppermost region of the ionosphere and also the fringe of the atmosphere. It lies about 480 km from the earth’s surface and has almost no air molecules.

Fathom : A unit of length to measure the depth of water. One fathom is equal to 1.8 m.

Fault : An enormous crack or break in the rock strata of the earth’s crust caused by horizontal or vertical movement. The slipping of strata is one of the causes of earthquakes.

Fohn : A warm dry wind which blows down the ice – ward slope of a mountain best known in the valleys of the northern Alps.

Fjord or Fiord : It is a long, narrow rock – bound sea – inlet; as on the Coast of Norway.

Freezing point : That temperature at which a liquid becomes a solid.

Front : The point of meet at the earth’s surface between cold and warm air masses. Ex : Cold air mass Labrador current and Warm air mass Gulf current meet at New Foundland.

Fog : It is formed by the presence of particles of condensed water vapour or smoke in the surface layers of the atmosphere. In the fog the objects are invisible at a certain distance.

Fumarole : A hole or vent in the ground in volcanic regions through which fumes or gases escape.

Gale : A strong wind that blows at a speed of 62 – 101 kmph.

Geosyncline : An enormous downward curve or inverted arch in the earth’s crust.

Geysers : The fountain of hot water coming out of a hole which extends deep into the earth. The water is hurled high into the air by the force of steam formed low down in the hole. It contains minerals in solution and they get deposited around the hole from which the water gushes out.

Glaciers : A large mass of snow which comes down the slopes on the mountain. It gets melted when it crosses the snowline. There are 4 types of glaciers

  • valley glacier
  • piedmont
  • ice – cap; and
  • continental.

Gorge : A narrow opening between hills. It may be formed by erosion of rivers.

Great Bear : A constellation of seven stars.

Great Circle : A circle on a sphere passing through two opposite points ( Poles ). The equator is a great circle as its centre coincides with that of the earth. Every parallel other than the equator is small circle because its plane does not pass through the centre of the earth. A great circle bisects the earth into hemispheres.

Groynes : Short walls built into the sea to check erosion by the tides and especially to prevent a beach from being washed away.

Greenwich Mean Time : ( G.M.T. ) Local time of Greenwich observatory, London. It is presumed that the zero meridian passes through it.

Gulf : A large, deep bay.

Gulf Stream : A warm ocean current emerging from the gulf of Mexico. It finally washes the western shores of England, moderates the temperature and keeps the harbours open throughout the year.

Hachures : Lines drawn on maps to indicate the incline of slopes. Steep slopes are indicated by lines drawn close together and shallow slopes by lines drawn relatively far apart.

Haff : A lagoon usually kept open by a river flowing through it. The long spit of sand which separates the Haff from the open sea is called Nehrung, e.g. the southern Baltic coast ( see Lagoon ).

Haloes round the Moon : A ring of light witnessed around the moon. It is caused by the reflection of light by ice crystals on the surface of the moon.

Habitat : A natural environment of a plant or animal.

Hemisphere : One half of the earth’s surface, formed when a plane passing through its centre bisects it.

Harmattan : A strong, hot, dusty wind that blows over parts of Western Africa from the Sahara desert.

High Seas : The middle parts of the oceans. They are not under the jurisdiction of any particular country.

Hinterland : The region lying behind a sea port which supplies the bulk of exports and the import in the port is distributed in that region.

Horizon : The circular line of the sky which appears to meet the earth or sea.

Humidity : State of the atmosphere with respect to the water vapour it contains.

Humus : The decomposed and partly decomposed organic matter of animal or vegetable origin in the soil.

Hoarfrost : Needle shaped crystals of ice deposited on the ground. It is just like dew.

Hurricane : A gale of extreme violence characterised by changes of the wind and sometimes thunder and lightning.

Hydrosphere : The oceanic part of earth. It accounts for 71% of the earth’s total surface. It consists of a number of oceans, bays, gulfs and lakes.

Ice Age : A period when Ice – sheets and glaciers covered large areas of the continent.

Icecap : A mass of ice covering the land in polar regions. Huge ice caps, such as those that cover Antarctica and much of Greenland, are sometimes called ‘Ice – sheets’.

Ice Fall : The part of a glacier where the sudden change of slopes has caused crevasses and broken the ice surface into pillars of ice.

Iceberg : A mass of ice floating on the sea. It is formed by breaking off from the end of a glacier or from an ice – barrier.

Igloo : The name of Eskimo winter house.

Igneous rocks : Rocks formed by cooling of the molten matter which comes out of the earth from its interior parts.

Indian Standard Time : It is the local time of Allahabad which is 82½° East longitude. It is exactly 5½° hours in advance of the Greenwich Time.

International Date line : The line approximately to 180° East or West longitude, where the date changes by one day as it is crossed.

Ionosphere : The region of the earth’s atmosphere extending from 53 to 400 miles above the earth. In this region the gases are ionised. It reflects the electromagnetic radiations of radio frequencies.

Isobars : The lines on the map connecting places of same barometric pressure.

Isobaths : Lines on the map connecting parts of the ocean of the same depth.

Isogonic lines : Contour lines of magnetic declination.

Isohel : A line on a map marking an area having the same duration of sunshine.

Isohyte : A line drawn on a map joining places receiving equal amount of rainfall over a certain period.

Isohaline : Lines on map joining points in a sea or an ocean having equal salinity.

Isoneph : A line on a map Joining places having equal average cloudiness over a certain period.

Isostasy : The state of balance or equilibrium that is said to exist between highlands and lowlands of the earth due to difference in the density of their respective rock material.

Isoseismic Lines : A line drawn on a map joining places experiencing equal intensity of shock in an earthquake.

Isotherm : Lines on a map joining those places which have the same mean temperature.

Isopleth : Line drawn on the map along which the value of a particular phenomenon or product is uniform.

Isobrants : Lines joining places experiencing a thunderstorm at the same time.

Isthmus : A narrow strip of land which joins two land areas. Eg : Isthmus of Panama.

Japan Current : A warm Pacific current that flows northwards to Japan and eastwards to the coast of North America. The current resembles the Gulf Stream in its course and effect.

Kayak : The canoe of the Eskimo made by stretching animal skins on a framework of bones.

Khamsin : The hot, dry wind experienced in Egypt corresponding to the Sirocco of North America. ‘Khamsin’ is the Arabic word for 50; the wind is said to blow during the period of 50 days from April to June.

Kuro Siwo : Warm oceanic current of the Pacific Ocean which flows near the east coast of Japan and ultimately drifts along the west coast of Canada. It raises the temperature of Canada and Japan.

Laterite : A reddish porous rock produced by weathering. Found chiefly in humid tropical regions e.g., India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sudan and parts of South America. Laterite is used in the manufacture of cement.

Lagoon : The stretch of shallow water at the mouth of a river or near sea but separated from it by sand.

Latitudes : The imaginary lines on the north and south of the equator. These are parallel to the equator.

Lapse rate : The rate of change of temperature in atmosphere with height.

Lava : It is an Italian word applied to the liquid products of volcanic activity. The term lava is applied to all matter of volcanic origin which is or has been in molten state.

Leap Year : It is the name given to a year containing 366 days. In early history a lunar calendar was used, but when man settled down into communities and cultivated crops, a solar calendar which coincided with the seasons was required. This raised many problems as the time taken by the earth to complete its orbit round the sun is not a whole number of days. The orbital period is 365.242 days ( 365 days 5 hours 46 minutes and 4.1 seconds ) to a first approximation of 365.25 days. To account, then for the odd quarter day an extra calendar day is added once every four years, as was first done in 46 B.C. under the direction of Julius Caesar.

Leaching : The process by which soluble substances are washed out of the upper layers of the soil into the lower layers by percolating rainwater.

Leeward : The side or direction which is sheltered from the wind, e.g., by a range of mountains.

Littoral : The land adjacent to the coast of a country. The littoral region of the ocean comprises the shallow waters adjacent to the sea coast and littoral countries are those that lie along the sea coast.

Lignite : The brown coal in which the original wood texture can be still seen.

Limestone : Is a common and widely distributed sedimentary rock consisting essentially of calcium carbonate but varying greatly in composition, colour and texture.

Lithosphere : The solid rock – crust of the earth.

Loch : A Scottish lake or a long, narrow area of the sea, found along the coast of north – western Scotland.

Loam : Fertile soil consisting of sand, clay together with silt and humus.

Lode : A thick vein of mineral ore found in rocks or a number of closely parallel veins.

Llanos : The name given in the northern part of South America, particularly in Columbia and Venezuela, to vast plains almost entirely level and uninterrupted only at intervals by detached elevations called Spanish mesas.

Longitude : A measurement on the globe or map of location east or west of the Equator. Longitudes are vertical lines passing through the poles. Latitudes and Longitudes are measured in degrees.

Longitudinal Valley : The valley exactly parallel to a mountain range is known as longitudinal valley.

Loess : The deposit of fine silt or dust generally held to have been transported to its present situation, by wind.
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Magma : Rock which is in fluid condition due to heat and commonly said to be molten.

Magnetic Pole : Either of two spots on the earth’s surface towards which a compass needle points from any direction throughout adjacent regions.

Magnetic Dip : The angle formed with the horizon by a magnetic needle free to move vertically in the plane of magnetic meridian. It is also called inclination or dip of the needle.

Magnetic Rocks : Those rocks of either igneous or sedimentary origin which have undergone sufficient heat and pressure to be altered into a different kind of rock. In this way limestone becomes marble.

Mean Sea Level ( MSL ) : The average level of the sea, or the standard level used to calculate the height of a place.

Mesa : A flat – topped elevation with one or more cliff – like sides; common in south – west USA.

Meseta : The plateau of central Spain crossed by mountain ranges.

Mist : A mass of water drops present in the lower layers of the atmosphere caused by condensation of water.

Mestizo : Offspring of an European and an American Indian.

Meteor : Refers to cosmic bodies which enter the earth’s atmosphere from outside and survives its fiery passage to fall upon the earth’s surface.

Midnight Sun : It is the appearance of the sun above the horizon at midnight. It may be witnessed at any point on the Arctic Circle on 21st, June and on the Antarctic Circle on 21st, December.

Milky way of Galaxy : A nebulous band of faint stars extending entirely around the celestial sphere.

Mirage : An optical illusion produced in the atmosphere by an unusual refraction of the light rays. The illusion may result in the appearance of distant object floating mid – air or projected transparently against a ground or sea surface where the subject does not physically exist.

Monsoon : A type of wind system in which there is a complete reversal, of prevailing wind direction from season to season.

Mulatto : Offspring of an European and African.

Nautical Mile : A unit of length used in sea and air navigation. An Inter – national unit equal to 1852 metres. In this sense, also called ‘air mile’.

Neap Tides : An especially small tidal range occurring twice monthly, produced by the tidal forces of the Sun and Moon acting in opposition. These tides rises just after the first and third quarters of the moon. The neap tides are lowest in the month as compared with their opposites – the spring tides.

Nebulae : Refers to primordial matter in the beginning existed in the form of intensely hot and rotating gaseous mass.

Oasis : Oasis area of land made fertile by the presence of water near the surface in an otherwise arid region. The occurance of oasis affects the distribution plants, animals and people in the desert region of the world.

Ocean Current : It refers to the large scale semi – permanent horizontal water movements that occur in the oceans and seas.

Orbit : Path of heavenly body through space in relation to some selected point.

Orographic Vain : Rain caused by mountains standing in the path of moisture – laden winds.

Outwash – plains : Alluvial plain formed by streams originating from melting ice of a glacier.

Pampas : The mid – latitude grassland of South America.

Peat : A dark brown or black organic mass found in wet, marshy ground. It consists of partly rotted vegetation that has collected under waterlogged conditions over a long time. In some parts of the world it is used as fuel.

Pelagic : Belonging to the open sea.

Perihelion : It refers to the position in the elliptical orbit of the Earth, planet or other object, the orbit of parabolic comets in which the object reaches its closest approach to the sun. The earth reaches this position about 3rd January of each year.

Parasite : An organism which gains its livelihood in whole or in part at the expense of another organism the host in which it lives usually and on which it is dependent.

Peneplain : A plain resulting from the erosive activity of running water. A region worn by its rivers to the lowest possible level is said to be peneplained or base levelled.

Peninsula : A stretch of land almost surrounded by water.

Perigee : A heavenly body’s point of lowest distance from the earth.

Piedmont Plateau : A plateau situated between a mountain range and a plain or sea, e.g. the Patagonian plateau of South America.

Plane of Ecliptic : A plane passing through the earth’s orbit.

Planetary Pressure Belts : There are pressure belts on the earth’s surface which cause the planetary wind system.

  • Equatorial low pressure belt due to excessive heat.
  • Sub – tropical high pressure belt on both sides of the equator at about 30° north and 30° south.
  • High pressure belt around 60° north and 60° south are temperate low pressure belts.
  • Polar regions are regions of permanent high pressure.

Plutonic Rock : The rocks formed by the slow cooling of the molten magma in the interior part of the earth. These rocks are large particle size, high silica and less density. Granite is an example.

Plateau : Plateau are formed by fissure eruption of volcanoes. Table or elevated land rising abruptly from the sea level. Ex. Deccan, Antrim Plateau.

Prairies : A treeless region in the Mississippi valley adjacent to the forest area, so called since the time of the early French explorers.

Planets : A massive spheroidal body of the solar system. They are of varying size and physical composition. They revolve round the sun in elliptical orbits in periods of time computable by Kepler’s laws in order of distance from the Sun. They are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Polar Easterlies : Polar winds that blow out from the polar high towards the temperate regions.

Polar regions : Arctic and Antarctic regions are known as Polar regions.

Polar Winds : Easterly Winds which blow from the cold Polar regions, warm regions.

Pole Star : The star visible in northern hemi – sphere only. It helps to determine the latitude of a place.

Pre – Cambrian Era : The time in the earth’s history before the Cambrian period; the first of the four great geological Eras. During this forms of life appeared. The Era ended about 600 million years ago.

Precipitation : Falling water ( in liquid or solid form, as the case may be ) from the atmosphere to the earth.

Prime Meridian : Zero degree longitude and is the Meridian from which the longitude of a place is measured.

Quicksand : A thick mass of wet, loose and unstable sand formed at the mouth of a river on the sea coast.

Rand : A familiar name for Wit Waters Rand, a ridge about 75 km long which lies south of Johannesburg ‘the Gold – reef City’. On this ridge are the greatest gold mines of the world.

Rainshadow : Area having relatively lower average rainfall, because it is sheltered from the prevailing rain – bearing winds by a range of mountains or hills.

Relative Humidity : The ratio between the actual amount of water present in a given volume of air and the amount of water vapour which will be present if it is fully saturated at the same temperature.

Relief Rains : Sometimes the winds of moisture rise to a very high level and strike big mountains that they rise up to reach colder layers of air where they condense and fall as rains. These rains are known as relief rains.

Reef : Ridge of rocks lying near the surface of the sea, which may be visible at low tide, but usually covered by water.

Ria : A long narrow sea inlet, caused by flooding of a narrow valley, which unlike a fiord deepens towards the sea, and is typically found in southwest Ireland and northwest Spain. Also called ‘river mouth’.

River Bar : A sandbank which forms across the mouth of a river that often makes navigation difficult.

Rift Valley : It is the largest of the seven regions of Kenya.

Roaring Forties : A sailor’s term for a region of the great southern ocean lying south of latitude 40° to 45° where strong and often stormy west, north west winds prevail.

Sand Dune : These are formed in the sea – beach or in deserts. Winds carrying sand coming against an obstacle; the sand piles up and dunes are formed. When the winds blow in the same direction, the dunes travel in the same direction. Sometimes the adjoining cities may be buried.

Sargasso Sea : Part of the North Atlantic between 29° and 40° north latitude and 35° and 75° west longitude.

Satellites : The secondary bodies which revolve round a planet.

Savanna : A tropical grassland. It is the region bordering equator in each hemisphere. Savannas are found in South America and Africa.

Sea of Tranquillity : It is one of the maria on the moon, the place where astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin landed on 21st July, 1969 and set foot on the lunar soil for the first time in the annals of man.

Sedimentary Rocks : Sediments are deposited by the agents of water, air, glacial and etc. Sediments are converted to sedimentary rock by various process. It is known as the lithificaton. It contains fossil. It arranged in layer ( strata ). This is known as stratification.

Selvas : The vast tropical forests of the Amazon and its tributaries.

Seismic Focus : Point below the earth’s surface where earthquake orginates.

Scyrophyte : A plant which lives on decaying organic matter. Most such plants are fungi.

Shott : A shott is also a shallow lake which turns dry in the hot season.

Sidereal Day : It is measured by the apparent diurnal motions of the stars due to the Earth’s axial rotation. It is the time from the upper meridian passage of star until its next passage. Rigorously, it is from one such passage to the next of the vernal equinox point, the day by this becomes shorter by 1/120 of a second than that determined by stars.

Simos : The winds that blow from the desert over Arabia and North Africa accompanied by suffocating clouds of sand.

Smoke Screens : Smoke clouds formed by firing smoke shells, dropping smoke bombs, burning smoke pots or operating mechanical smoke generators in war to conceal their movements from enemies.

Smog : Fog heavily laden with smoke.

Snowline : The line of latitude above which there is perpetual snow. Its location which ranges from sea level in polar regions to about 16,000 feet, near the equator is affected by such factors, such as degree of slope, amount of rainfall and force of prevailing winds.

Solar Day : It is measured by the interval from one upper meridian passage to the sun to the next. Thus it depends upon the earth’s axial rotation with respect to the sun.

Solar System : The sun, nine known planets and their satellites, the asteroids, comets and material between the planets that is under the gravitational pull of the sun are collectively known as the solar system.

Solstice : The instant at which the sun reaches its greatest angular distance north or south of the equator in the course of each year. For a few days it then changes very slowly in declination. The summer solstice occurs on or about 22nd June and the winter solstice occurs on 22nd December.

Sirocco : A hot oppressive wind, experienced in spring and summer in the Mediterranean area. Originating in the Lybian desert is southerly in Italy, Sicily and adjacent lands; but since it also originates in the Syrian and Arabian deserts, it is easterly on the eastern border of the Mediterranean. As it flows over the sea, it becomes moist and enervating coming over the land. It becomes desiccating, dusty and irritating.

Steppes : The area which is more or less level, unforested, not flooded by high water in the spring well – drained and covered throughout the entire vegetative season with grassy vegetation growing on black soils. Steppes are found in many parts of the world, in central plains of the U.S.A. and Australia. Steppes in Ukraine are well – known. The steppes have warm dry summers and cold winters.

Stars : Fixed, celestial, self – luminous, gaseous bodies all of great size of which sun is a specimen.

Strait : A narrow stretch of sea connecting two extensive areas of sea.

Stratus clouds : Clouds which are like a dark grey sheet extending from one side of horizon to the other and have uniform base.

Summit : Is the highest point of a mountain.

Sun Dogs : A mock sun or perihelion, a bright spot on the path of an astronomical body nearest to the sun.

Sublimation : Change of state of water from solid to vapour directly or vice versa. Ex. Iodine, Camphor.

Stratosphere : The upper layer of earth’s atmosphere at a height of 10 miles.

Taiga : A belt of coniferous forests of the Northern Hemisphere, e.g. Siberia.

Terai : Region along the foothills of the Himalayas which receives much of the heavy rains that fall on the lower slopes.

Terrain : The physical characteristics and features of any stretch of country.

Tektites : Natural round shaped glassy objects found are the fall – out of the splash of meteoric matter on earth.

Time Determination : The difference in minutes between the Greenwich Time and the local time at a place can be derived by multiplying the longitude of a place by four.

Tornado : Violent whirl, hurricanes, cyclones with usual accompaniment of electrical disturbances, downpours, or rain.

Tsunami : A large sea wave caused by an earthquake originating on the sea bed.

Trade Winds : Prevailing north – easterly and south – easterly winds of the sub – tropics deriving their name from their constant course. The trade winds occupy two belts between latitudes 5° and 25° north and south of equators.

Tributary : Small rivulet running into the main stream of water.

Tropical Cyclone : A small but intense depression which orginates in tropical regions.

Tropics : Imaginary circles over the earth about 23°28′ North or South ( Tropic of Cancer to Tropic of Capricorn respectively ) of the Equator. These are the maximum limits to which sun reaches.

Tundras : Vast stretches of desert land in Antarctic and Arctic regions. The region is too cold. So there is no vegetation. The Reindeer is the only animal living there, to give milk to the poor inhabitants.

Twilight : The diffused light seen before the sunrise and after the sunset.

Typhoons : Violent storms that occur between July and October along the eastern seaboard of Asia between Japan and Philippines.

Ursa Major : Constellation of seven stars clearly visible to the naked eye.

Valley : A deep depression between hills or mountains; often carved out by a river or glacier.

Veering : A clock change in the direction of the wind, e.g. North to North – East.

Wadi : Is a desert river which remains largely dry except when fed by rain water.

Water Parting : The elevated land separating the source of two different river systems; also called watershed.

Water – spout : Spout of water formed between the sea and cloud.

Water Table : The surface below in which fissures and pores in the strata are found saturated with water.

Zambo : Offspring of an American Indian and African.

Zenithical Projection : Is adopted to construct equal area or equidistant maps. An equal area projection is frequently shown as a polar projection. Here concentric parallels are drawn with one of the poles at the centre and meridians as straight lines converging at the given pole.

Zodiac : Zone of the heavens in which lie the paths of the Sun, the Moon, and the chief planets.

Zoophyte : An animal which resembles a plant; for example, a Coral Polyp, a sponge.

{tab=Geographical Discoveries}
Important Geographical Discoveries

Amundson ( Norwegian ) : Discovered South Pole in 1912.

Armstrong, Neil A. ( U.S.A. ) : First person to set foot, on the moon on 21st July, 1969.

Byrd : American aviator and polar explorer. Flew over the North Pole in l926 and made the first flight over the South Pole in 1929. Discovered Edsel Ford Mountains.

Cabot ( Venetian ) : Discovered New Foundland in 1494.

Captain Cook ( English ) : Discovered Sandwich ( now Hawaiian ) Isles in 1770.

Columbus : Discovered West Indies in 1492 and South America in 1498.

Copernicus : Discovered Heliocentric in 1540. Propounded the astronomical system which bears his name.

David Livingstone : Discovered course of the Zambezi, the Victoria Falls and Lake Nyasa in Africa.

Edmund Hillary : joint conqueror of Mount Everest with Tenzing. He also led a Trans – Atlantic expedition and reached South Pole on 3rd January, 1958.

Ferdinand de Lesseps ( French Engineer ) : Conceived the plan of the Suez Canal on which work was completed in 1869 through his efforts.

Francis Younghusband : Explored the frontier regions of India, China and Tibet.
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Junko Dhabay ( Japan ) : First woman conqueror of Mount Everest in the world ( 1953 ).

Kepler : Discovered the Laws of Planetary Motion in 1609.

Lindbergh : Performed the first solo – flight across the Atlantic in 1927 from New York to Paris.

Magellan : Commanded the first expedition in 1519 to sail round the world. Discovered passage to the Pacific from the Atlantic through Straits afterwards named after him.

Marco Polo : Venetian traveller who explored China, India, South eastern countries and published the record of his various explorations. He was the first European to visit China.

Nansen : Norwegian explorer who explored across Greenland and reached the highest altitude in the North Polar Region, till then not attained.

Peary, Robert : First to reach the North Pole in 1909.

Pedro Alvares Cabral ( Portuguese ) : Discovered Brazil in 1500.

Shackleton : Arctic explorer – reached within 160 km of the South Pole.

Sven Hedin : Swedish explorer. Made great contribution to the geographic and archaeological knowledge of large areas of Central Asia.

Tasman : Dutch navigator, discovered the Tasmania Island and New Zealand in 1642.

Tenzing : First to reach Mount Everest on 29th May, 1953 along with Edmund Hillary. The expedition was led by Col. Sir John Hunt.

Vasco da Gama ( Portuguese ) : Rounded the Cape of Good Hope and discovered the sea route to India in 1498.

Important Lines of Demarcation

Durand Line : The demarcation line drawn in 1896 by Sir Mortimer Durand. It defined the boundary between India ( now Pakistan ) and Afghanistan. Afghanistan refuses to recognise this line.

Hindenburg Line : The line to which the Germans retreated in 1917 during the First World War. This was the dividing line between Germany and Poland.

Hotline : Uninterrupted directed telephonic link between Kremlin ( USSR ) and the White House ( USA ) to avoid any accidental flare – up.

McMohan Line : Demarcation Line between China and India.

Oder Neisse Line : The line defining the boundary between East Germany and Poland drawn after the Second World War. Russia and Poland are very particular that this line should be recognised as the final boundary line ( between Germany and Poland ) by the Western Powers and West Germany.

Radcliffe Line : The boundary line demarcated by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, Chairman of the Boundary Commission for India and Pakistan, at the time of Partition of India on 15th August, 1947.

Seigfried Line : Demarcation line between Germany and France.
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17th Parallel : Demarcation line between North and South Vietnams.

24th Parallel : It is the demarcation line in Kutch dispute claimed by Pakistan. It has been rejected by India.

38th Parallel : Demarcation Line between North and South Koreas.

49th Parallel : Demarcation Line between USA and Canada.

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