Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Word of the Day -- Geodesy

Geodesy, also known as geodetics or geodetics engineering — a branch of applied mathematics and earth sciences, is the scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth, including its gravitational field, in a three-dimensional time-varying space. Geodesists also study geodynamical phenomena such as crustal motion, tides, and polar motion. For this they design global and national control networks, using space and terrestrial techniques while relying on datums and coordinate systems.

Geodesy — from the Greek word γεωδαισία or geodaisia (literally, "division of the Earth") — is primarily concerned with positioning within the temporally varying gravity field. Somewhat obsolete nowadays, geodesy in the German-speaking world is divided into "Higher Geodesy" ("Erdmessung" or "höhere Geodäsie"), which is concerned with measuring the Earth on the global scale, and "Practical Geodesy" or "Engineering Geodesy" ("Ingenieurgeodäsie"), which is concerned with measuring specific parts or regions of the Earth, and which includes surveying.

The shape of the Earth is to a large extent the result of its rotation, which causes its equatorial bulge, and the competition of geological processes such as the collision of plates and of volcanism, resisted by the Earth's gravity field. This applies to the solid surface, the liquid surface (dynamic sea surface topography) and the Earth's atmosphere. For this reason, the study of the Earth's gravity field is called physical geodesy by some.

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