The Physical Environment CONTENTS | ATLAS | GOOGLE EARTH

Essentials of Geography

Steps in Geographic Inquiry

Geographers like most other scientists follow a logical order of inquiry when attempting to answer geographic questions. The steps in geographic inquiry are:

  • Observation

  • Analysis

  • Explanation

  • Prediction 

Some physical geographers are interested in the spatial distribution of weather across the earth. To study such phenomena, the geographer employs many of the same techniques and tools of a meteorologist. Let's look at how a geographer, or meteorologist, studies the pattern of weather across our earth.


aerovaneFigure 1.8 Aerovane for measuring wind speed and direction.

First, observations must be taken of the various weather elements. At particular times each day, hundreds of weather observers make instrument readings either manually or use automated weather instruments to gather data. Here we see an aerovane that measures both wind speed and direction. The data from hundreds of ground-based observations, radiosonde, pilot reports, and satellites are fed to  World Meteorological Centers located in Australia, Russia and the United States.

Analysiscomputer technician examines weather display

Figure 1.9 Analyzing weather information 

From the World Meteorological Centers, worldwide weather data is compiled and sent to  a country's national meteorological center. The data is fed into a variety of computer models, equations that relate to atmospheric energy and motion, for analysis and visualization of weather. The output of these models are used explain the present weather and predict future weather.


Previous |Continue     



Contents |Glossary | Atlas Index  |  Blog | Podcast | Google Earth | Search Updates | Top of page

About TPE | Who's Used TPE |  Earth Online Media

Please contact the author for inquiries, permissions, corrections or other feedback.

For Citation: Ritter, Michael E. The Physical Environment: an Introduction to Physical Geography.
Date visited.

©2003 - 2012 Michael Ritter (
Last revised 6/5/12

Help keep this site available by donating through PayPal.


Creative Commons Share Alike Logo

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License..

© 2020 The Physical EnvironmentSouthern California
Powered By DreamHost