Geography Dictionary

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Factor of production – capital, labour, land. Combine with entrepreneurship in the attempt to make profit.

Factory farming – see battery farming.

Family planning – the move to having pregnancy by choice rather than chance achieved through the education and empowerment of women, altered attitudes in society and the availability and affordability of contraceptives.

Famine – reduced availability of food causing starvation and malnutrition, often leading to deaths on a large scale. Famines occur due to a devastating combination of natural and human conditions. It should be noted that globally, if not regionally, there is always enough food to feed everybody regardless of regional success/failure of crop yields. The controlling factors in famines are therefore the human ones that limit availability of food, usually to the poorest, most vulnerable members of the affected society.

FAO -see Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Farm Diversification Scheme -in UK, grants available to farmers to develop supplementary income from alternative, non-farming activities on their land. An attempt to alleviate the impact of set-aside.

Fault -a break in the continuity of rock strata. May be due to tension, compression, and/or horizontal tearing.

Faulting - tectonic movements which create faults in rock strata.

Fauna -animal life.

Federalism -the combination of smaller states under a larger, national (federal) government to improve ability and efficiency in providing some administrative functions e.g. military services. Best known examples are the USA and Australia.

Feedback -in a system, an output which causes changes to that system inputs. Two kinds:

  • negative feedback -one which reduces and possibly reverses the usual processes.

  • positive feedback -one which exacerbates the usual processes.

Feldspar -the generic name for a group of minerals made up of aluminium silicate along with calcium, potassium or sodium. A component of granite.

Felsenmeer-see blockfield.

Fen -a wetland area composed of swamp and some low density woodland. Usually of low elevation and relatively flat.

Fermentation layer -the lower layer of the litter where decomposition is in progress.

Ferrel cell -the mid-latitude cell in the tricellular model of atmospheric circulation.

Ferralitic -a soil in which the heavy leaching of silica leaves a higher concentration of iron giving the soil a rich red colour. Found in tropical areas where rainfall is high.

Ferruginous -a soil in which a hard layer of laterite forms due to alternating periods of leaching and capillary action. These occur due to seasonal rainfall such as in a savanna biome.

Fertiliser-a substance containing plant nutrients which is added to agricultural land to maintain or increase its fertility. Two kinds:

  • organic - manure from livestock, compost from crop cast-offs.

  • inorganic -man-made chemical additives especially nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.

Fertility -two kinds:

  • in soil, the ability of the soil to deliver high crop yields.

  • in a population, the average number of children per woman.

Fertility rate - The number of live births per 1,000 women of reproductive age, usually taken as 15-44 years, in a given year.

Fetch -distance wind has travelled over open water to create waves.

Field capacity -water in the soil once gravitational water has fully drained out i.e. capillary and hygroscopic water.

Finite -lit. limited. In geography, usually applied to resources which are non-renewable i.e. they are likely to be exhausted in the future.

Firn -partially packed snow which lasts through at least one summer. The partial melting of the upper layer increases the density of the snow below. After a couple of decades of compaction and the addition of meltwater to squeeze out air, the firn becomes ice.

First World -old term for the Economically More Developed World.

Fiscal policy -those government policies relating to raising revenue (through taxation and other measures) and government spending (on what it should spend and to what level).

Fissure -a crack in the crust through which lava may erupt.

Fjord -a narrow, steep-sided coastal inlet which can extend up to a couple of hundred kilometres inland. During a glacial period sea levels are lower and so glaciers that reach the sea erode valleys down to this sea level. After the glacial has ended, the sea level will rise and flood this glacial valley to form a fjord.

Flash flood -when flooding is very sudden and high volume compared to the channel involved.

Floating-leaved plants -see aquatic plants.

Flocculation -the clustering of clay particles when river load meets sea water. The resultant larger particles sink more easily.

Flood (flooding) -the overflow of water onto the land when:

  • a river discharge exceeds the channel carrying capacity.

  • seawater surges up onto usually dry land surfaces.

  • sea level rises.

Flood control -measures used to reduce the frequency and the magnitude of flooding. Two approaches:

  • hard engineering projects which build up banks, straighten and deepen channels, divert channels, build overflow channels or dam rivers altogether -all attempts to deal with large volumes of water which have already reached the channel.

  • soft engineering projects which involve afforestation or reforestation of the drainage basin or farming techniques which reduce surface run-off such as contour ploughing or stone lines -all attempt to deal with large volumes of water before they even get to the channel.

Floodplain -the part of the valley floor occasionally flooded by the river. Over time sediment or alluvium builds the elevation of the plain.

Flora -plant life.

Flow line -a mapping technique using a line to show volume of a movement along a route. The width of the line is proportional to the size of the volume (i.e. a thicker line represents a higher volume). Could be used to show volume of movement of people or goods on a map.

Flow production-on a production-line, where the goods being made/assembled never stop moving along the line. Workers/robots must complete their task in a fixed time or the chance will pass and goods will be defective. Perhaps the best known example is car assembly lines.

Flume -a small, U-shaped channel built into a river to aid the measurement of discharge.

Fluvial -lit. of a river. Used to distinguish processes and landforms from similar ones that may be produced by a different agent, e.g. fluvial deposition rather than glacial deposition.

Fluvioglacial  - lit. of a meltwater river. Important when distinguishing fluvioglacial landforms.

Fluvioglacial landforms -meltwater transports and deposits material both in and adjacent to glacial environments. These deposits may be left behind after glacial retreat. They are characterized by sorted deposits showing their origins in water (see Stokes-Law).

Focus -in an earthquake, the actual point within the crust where the energy was released.

Fog -ground-level condensation caused if the dew point is reached in this part of the atmosphere by advection, evaporation, radiation or at a warm front or over ice. Typically, the density of the water droplets needs to be such that visibility is reduced to 1 km or less before it is termed fog.

Fohn -warm, dry wind descending in the Alps. When air is drawn into the Alps from the Mediterranean it will rise and, if it reaches the dew point, its rate of cooling will be slowed due to the release of latent heat. This means that when it descends on the other side it is at a warmer temperature than if it had risen without reaching the dew point. If it reaches sea level it will be warmer than when it left the Mediterranean.

Folding - compression of the crust due to tectonic movements can lead to the crumpling of rock, particularly when layered such as sedimentary rock. The process must be slow and must not exceed the internal strength of the rock or else it will fault.

Sedimentary rock - layers which are uplifted to form higher land areas or mountain ranges. Forces may be great enough to cause metamorphic changes in the rock structure.

Fold mountains -mountains produced by folding. Most commonly formed where a continental plate collides with another or with an oceanic plate.

Food and Agricultural Organisation -an agency of the United Nations charged with eradicating hunger and malnutrition globally.

Food chain -the transfer/flow of energy through an ecosystem. Energy is made available to the system by plants or autotrophs and then moves through the system as each trophic level above feeds on the level below. At each level energy is ost-to detritivores and through respiration. More detailed breakdowns of the particular species in any one ecosystem may lead to a more accurate but far more complex food web.

Food processing -preserving food through canning, freezing, refrigeration, salting, smoking or vacuum packing. Allows food to be consumed further away from where it is produced and/or after a delay that would usually mean the food becoming inedible. Can be considered as one of the vital underlying components of modern population growth.

Food surplus -when food stores build up in certain areas. This occurs because supply has exceeded demand due to one or more of a number of reasons:

  • yields are so high the population cannot consume the food available

  • prices are such that some people may consume less than they would like

  • competition from imports has left domestic produce unsold

  • supplies are deliberately withheld from the market either to maintain higher prices or as a precautionary measure against future shortages.

Food web -where food chains overlap and intertwine with each other within and between ecosystems. Many organisms have a varied diet which may include foods from different trophic levels thus complicating the food chain. Many organisms move between ecosystems thus providing transfers of energy in and out of a particular food chain.

Footfall – an adaptation of pedestrian flow for the retailing sector, footfall is the number of shoppers entering a shop or shopping mall in a designated timeframe. Usually measured on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Footloose -industries that do not rely on the location of raw materials or the cost of transporting them for their own locational decision-making. This is based more on the location of markets and labour pools which, as they are more widespread, increases the range of locational choice.

Foreset beds -in a delta, the deposits of silts and clays found to the seaward side of the feature beyond the topset beds but above and before the bottomset beds. Usually lie at an angle as a result.

Forestry -see forest management.

Forest management -the strict control of forest areas either to maintain them in a particular form (usually as forest parks for recreation and leisure) or for the purpose of farming the trees in a sustainable manner.

Forminifera -a protozoan, microscopic shellfish which proliferates in warm marine environments and whose sedimentation leads eventually to the formation of chalk.

Forward integration - vertical integration in a downstream direction e.g. a manufacturer controlling retail outlets, or a plantation having a canning factory.

Fosse -a long narrow trench often found at an old fortified site.

Fossil fuel -coal, oil and gas. So called as they have been produced over millions of years after prehistoric forests were flooded and then overlain with sediments which compacted the material. As they are produced from hydrocarbons they can be burned to produce energy and they provide the vast bulk of energy worldwide for power production and vehicle fuels.

Fossil water -water that has become detached from the hydrological cycle having lain, untouched and without addition, in deep aquifers since prehistoric times.

Fragmentation -in agriculture, the splitting of a landholding into smaller, more disparate parts usually due to inheritance being applied inefficiently.

Free-floating plants -see aquatic plants.

Freeport -an area at a sea or air port where commercial activity is allowed free of any taxation regardless of origins or destinations of goods or profits. The host country derives benefits from the employment of local workers.

Free trade -trade taking place between countries free of any barrier such as taxation, tariffs or quotas.

Freeze-thaw weathering -a process of physical or mechanical weathering. In areas which experience a diurnal temperature range above and below 0蚓 then water is frozen and thawed on a daily basis. As it expands when freezing, it can widen cracks in which it is held which then capture more water during the thaw period. This is repeated until the stresses within the rock cause it to fracture.

Freshwater – all water with a low concentration of dissolved salts (<0.5 ppt) and other solids not in the sea or brackish.

Friable -lit. easily crumbled. In geography, used when describing soils.

Frictional unemployment -period of unemployment when a worker is between jobs.

Friedmann, J-architect of a model of economic development at national level. He suggested 4 stages:

  • initially a country contains several relatively similar and independent settlement centres (pre-industrial stage)

  • an advantage leads to one centre becoming the core region through cumulative causation. The rest of the country is left as periphery  (transitional stage)

  • some of the peripheral centres begin to develop into sub-cores due to greater connections between centres and diffusion of growth associated with increasing costs in the core (industrial stage)

  • a multi-core, interdependent network of urban areas is linked across the national area by highly efficient communication links (post-industrial stage).

Front -the boundary where two air masses meet.

Frost - sublimation of water vapour directly onto surfaces such as plants, cars and pavements when very rapid heat loss occurs during an anticyclone during winter when temperatures allow the formation of ice crystals.

Frost creep -a form of mass movement where expansion due to freezing of water in the upper soil leads to downslope collapse on thawing and thus a net downslope movement.

Frost shattering -see freeze-thaw weathering.

Fuelwood - as it suggests, the use of wood as a fuel. Usually for cooking and heating.

Full employment -the level at which all those of legal age who wish to work are actually employed, with the exception of the frictionally unemployed. A standard benchmark for full employment is 5% or less unemployed though this is hotly debated.

Function - the main purpose of, or dominant activity in, a settlement. Examples might be: administrative, educational, industrial, market, military garrison, religious, or residential among others. Small settlements can easily be classified. As settlements grow and/or change the idea is too simple and they can only be described as multi-functional.

Functional zone -a portion of an urban area have a clearly defined dominant function such as the CBD.

Fungicide - a chemical used in farming to kill funguses which inhibit plant growth.

Fungus -a non-photosynthetic organism which feeds on organic matter e.g. mould, mushrooms, yeast.

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In the world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
Oscar Wilde

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