A feature, in the context of geography
and geographic information science
, is a phenomenon
that exists at a location in the space and scale of relevance to geography; that is, at or near the surface of the Earth, at a moderate to global scale. Almost all geographic information, such as that represented in maps
, geographic information systems
, remote sensing
, and other forms of geographic discourse, consists of descriptions of geographic features, including their inherent nature, their spatial form and location, and their characteristics or properties.
The term "feature" is meant to be broad and inclusive, including both natural and human-constructed phenomena. It is metaphysically
neutral, including both phenomena that exist physically (e.g. a building) and those that are conceptual or social creations (e.g. a county). In an ontological sense, the term is generally restricted to endurants
, thus not including spatial processes and events.
In geographic information science
, the terms ''feature'', ''phenomenon'', ''object'', and ''entity'' are generally used as roughly synonymous. In the 1992 Spatial Data Transfer Standard, one of the first public standard models of geographic information, an attempt was made to formally distinguish them: an ''entity'' as the real-world phenomenon, an ''object'' as a representation thereof (e.g. on paper or digital), and a ''feature'' as the combination of both entity and representation objects.
Although this distinction is often cited in textbooks, it has not gained lasting nor widespread usage. In the ISO 19101 Geographic Information Reference Model and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Simple Features
Specification, international standards that form the basis for most modern geospatial technologies, a ''feature'' is defined as "an abstraction of a real-world phenomena," essentially the ''object'' in SDTS.
Despite these attempts at formalization, the broadly interchangeable use of these English terms has persisted. That said, ''Phenomenon'' is likely the most broad, comfortably including geographic masses, processes, and events that would be difficult to call "objects" or "entities."
Natural geographical features
There are two different terms to describe habitats: ecosystem and biome. An ecosystem is a community of organisms. In contrast, biomes
occupy large areas of the globe and often encompass many different kinds of geographical features, including mountain range
Biotic diversity within an ecosystem is the variability among living organisms from all sources, including ''inter alia
'', terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems. Living organism
s are continually engaged in a set of relationships with every other element constituting the environment
in which they exist, and ecosystem describes any situation where there is relationship between organisms and their environment.
Biomes represent large areas of ecologically similar communities
, and soil organisms. Biomes are defined based on factors such as plant structures (such as trees, shrubs, and grasses), leaf types (such as broadleaf and needleleaf), plant spacing (forest, woodland, savanna), and climate. Unlike ecozones
, biomes are not defined by genetic, taxonomic, or historical similarities. Biomes are often identified with particular patterns of ecological succession
and climax vegetation
A landform comprises a geomorphological
unit and is largely defined by its surface form and location in the landscape, as part of the terrain
, and as such is typically an element of topography
. Landforms are categorized by features such as elevation, slope, orientation, stratification
, rock exposure, and soil type. They include berm
s, mounds, hills, cliffs
s, and numerous other elements. Oceans
are the highest-order landforms.
A body of water is any significant accumulation of water, usually covering the Earth. The term "body of water" most often refers to ocean
s, and lake
s, but it may also include smaller pools of water such as pond
s, and other geographical features where water moves from one place to another are not always considered bodies of water, but they are included as geographical formations featuring water.
Artificial geographical features
A settlement is a permanent or temporary community
in which people live. Settlements range in components from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with surrounding urbanized areas. Other landscape features such as roads, enclosures, field systems, boundary banks and ditches, ponds, parks and woods, mills, manor houses, moats, and churches may be considered part of a settlement.
Engineered geographic features include highway
s, and reservoirs
, and are part of the anthroposphere
because they are man-made geographic features.
Cartographic features are types of abstract geographical features, which appear on maps but not on the planet itself, even though they are located on the planet. For example, latitudes
, the Equator
, and the Prime Meridian
are shown on maps of the Earth, but it do not physically exist. It is a theoretical line used for reference, navigation, and measurement.
In geographic information standardization
In the ISO/TC 211
standards on geographic information
, there are the following definitions:
* a ''feature'' is defined as an "abstraction of real world phenomena";
* a ''geographic feature'' is a "representation of real world phenomenon associated with a location relative to the Earth";
* a ''simple feature
'' is a "feature restricted to 2D geometry with linear interpolation between vertices, having both spatial and non spatial attributes";
* a ''complex feature'' is a "feature composed of other features".
* Geographical location
* Geographical field
* Human geography
* Physical geography
* Simple Features