Terms of physical geography

Terms of physical geography

This animation demonstrates the most important relief features, surface waters and their relevant symbols.

Geography

Keywords

physical geography, concepts, relief features, surface waters, topography, highland, lowland, Great Hungarian Plain, mountains of medium height, high mountains, river, still waters, ocean, sea, lake, topographic symbols, hydrographic symbols, elevation, surface water, natural environment, hydrography, topographic representation, nature, geography

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Scenes

Relief features 1

  • hills - Landforms with elevation of 200–500 m. They are lower than mountains, and form an undulating terrain.
  • depression - A land formation below mean sea level.
  • plain - An extensive, flat area of land with an elevation of 0–200 m.
  • plateau - A large, mainly level area of land at an elevation above 200 m.
  • high mountains - Elevations of the Earth’s surface rising abruptly, higher than 1,500 metres above sea level.
  • mountains of medium height - Elevations of the Earth’s surface, reaching heights of 500–1,500 metres above sea level.

Relief features 2

  • atoll - A ring-shaped island that is made of coral.
  • island - A piece of land that is surrounded by water on all sides.
  • peninsula - A piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to the mainland.
  • hillside - The sloping surface between the foot of the hill and the hilltop.
  • hill - Elevated landforms bordered by slopes, not exceeding 500 metres in height.
  • hilltop - The highest point of a hill.
  • cave - A natural, at least 2 metres long underground chamber, especially in a hillside or cliff.
  • basin - An extensive depression in the terrain, completely enclosed by mountains.
  • foot of the mountain - The bottom of a mountain.
  • mountain slope - The slope between the foot and the crest of the mountain.
  • valley - An elongated depression in the terrain surrounded by slopes
  • mountain crest - A line connecting the highest points of the mountain ridge.
  • mountain pass - A location in a mountain range suitable for a road to be built to cross the ridge.
  • mountain top - The topmost part of a mountain, surrounding the summit.
  • active volcano - This is where the rising magma reaches the surface.
  • mountain - Natural elevated landforms bordered by slopes exceeding 500 metres in height.
  • summit

Surface waters 1

  • ocean - A large body of salt water covering the oceanic plates. Oceans have their own basins and circulatory systems and are separated from each other by continents.
  • bay - A body of water connected to a lake, sea or ocean, partly enclosed by land.
  • sea - A large body of salt water partially surrounded by land. It is smaller than an ocean and is separated from it by islands, peninsulas or straits.
  • canal - Man-made channels for water transport or drainage.
  • main stem - The longest river of a drainage basin that usually carries the largest amount of water.
  • drainage basin - An area surrounded by watersheds where all the water from the catchment area converges to a single point.
  • river - Natural watercourse flowing in an inclined stream bed.
  • watershed - A line separating two drainage basins and connecting the highest surface points between them.
  • tributary - A river that flows into a larger river and not into a sea.
  • lake - An area filled with water that is completely surrounded by land. It has no connection to seas or oceans.

Surface waters 2

  • waterfall - A sharp drop in the water level where the riverbed with rocks of various hardness form steps due to the rapid erosion of soft rocks.
  • glacier - A slow-moving body of ice that fills a valley.
  • dam - A barrier built perpendicular to a river’s direction of flow across a section of a valley to block the flow or accumulate water.
  • swamp - A phase in lake degradation where aquatic vegetation outgrows the open water surface.
  • estuary - Funnel-shaped body of water streaming into the seas or oceans. Here tidal forces are more powerful than the river’s ability to carry sediment, therefore sediment is washed away.
  • harbour - A place on the coast where ships may moor in shelter.
  • canal - Man-made channels for water transport or drainage.
  • confluence - The point where a river flows into another river.
  • river delta - The mouth of a river, where the river flows into a sea. Here tidal forces are weaker than the river's power to carry sediment, therefore sediment is deposited and the river splits into many branches.
  • reef - A ridge of sand or rocks at or just below the surface of the water, making navigation hazardous.
  • strait - A narrow passage of water connecting two bodies of water.

Animation

  • hills - Landforms with elevation of 200–500 m. They are lower than mountains, and form an undulating terrain.
  • depression - A land formation below mean sea level.
  • plain - An extensive, flat area of land with an elevation of 0–200 m.
  • plateau - A large, mainly level area of land at an elevation above 200 m.
  • high mountains - Elevations of the Earth’s surface rising abruptly, higher than 1,500 metres above sea level.
  • mountains of medium height - Elevations of the Earth’s surface, reaching heights of 500–1,500 metres above sea level.
  • ocean - A large body of salt water covering the oceanic plates. Oceans have their own basins and circulatory systems and are separated from each other by continents.
  • sea - A large body of salt water partially surrounded by land. It is smaller than an ocean and is separated from it by islands, peninsulas or straits.
  • river - Natural watercourse flowing in an inclined stream bed.
  • lake - An area filled with water that is completely surrounded by land. It has no connection to seas or oceans.
  • waterfall - A sharp drop in the water level where the riverbed with rocks of various hardness form steps due to the rapid erosion of soft rocks.
  • dam - A barrier built perpendicular to a river’s direction of flow across a section of a valley to block the flow or accumulate water.
  • harbour - A place on the coast where ships may moor in shelter.
  • canal - Man-made channels for water transport or drainage.
  • confluence - The point where a river flows into another river.
  • reef - A ridge of sand or rocks at or just below the surface of the water, making navigation hazardous.
  • strait - A narrow passage of water connecting two bodies of water.
  • mountains of medium height - Elevated landforms 500–1,500 metres above sea level.
  • high mountains - Elevated landforms with peaks reaching heights of over 1,500 metres above sea level.
  • river - Natural watercourse flowing in an inclined stream bed.
  • lake - An area filled with water that is completely surrounded by land. It has no connection to seas or oceans.
  • plain - An extensive, flat area of land with an elevation of 0–200 m.
  • sea - A large body of salt water partially surrounded by land. It is smaller than an ocean and is separated from it by islands, peninsulas or straits.
  • ocean - A large body of salt water covering the oceanic plates. Oceans have their own basins and circulatory systems and are separated from each other by continents.
  • hills - Landforms with elevation of 200–500 m. They are lower than mountains, and form an undulating terrain.

Narration

A knowledge of the terms and symbols in physical geography is essential for topographical orientation. We categorise types of terrains, or land relief, according to their height above sea level, that is, their elevation. Based on elevation, we can distinguish between plains, hills and mountains.

The types of plains, hills and mountains vary greatly, as you can see in the animation.

We distinguish two types of surface waters: still waters and watercourses. Still waters include lakes, seas and oceans, while watercourses include streams and rivers.

Surface waters create various types of relief features, including confluences, straits, reefs and waterfalls. There are also man-made structures such as dams, ports and canals.

The purpose of topographic representation is to aid in orientation; this requires the representation of elevation. The most illustrative way to represent elevation in world maps, school atlases, wall maps and hydrographic maps is the use of colours.
Waters are blue, plains are green, hills are light brown and mountains are brown on maps. A darker shade of brown indicates an increase in elevation, while in the case of green and blue colours, darker shades represent an increase in depth.

Numerous topographic and hydrographic symbols are used to denote landforms and surface waters, respectively.

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