New Directions – Map Making Reading Questions and Answers

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  • IELTS Reading Multiple Choice Questions

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IELTS Reading PassageNew Directions – Map Making

New Directions – Map Making

A “A map may lie, but it never jokes” wrote poet Howard McCordin. When it comes to getting to our destinations on time, there are few things more important than an uncluttered and accurate map. By definition, maps show the features of the earth graphically, to scale, on a two-dimensional surface. They may be thematic – showing vegetation, wildlife, geology; navigational – showing hydrographic, aeronautical or automotive routes; topographic – showing the natural and man-made features of the land or any other of a number of variations. Their creation is a work of art and science involving a merger between creativity and precision.

B One of the biggest influences upon map creation or cartography was World War II. In the war zone, maps of targets and terrain played a huge part and so topographers and members of the air force alike were engaged in the production of them. The need to accurately measure distances using air photos gave birth to the process of photogrammetry. Great cartographic and mathematical skill was required in a process that was initially limited by a lack of photographic coverage. Planes flying at a constant altitude flew in grid patterns with cameras mounted on them, facing straight down. When the weather was good, this process provided photos in the perpendicular axis – the preferred optical axis for mapping. In order to include both sides of the horizon, some cameras were specially designed to take three pictures at once – one vertical and two side-looking obliques. It was a difficult task to keep the plane running smoothly but the latest refinements of map-making techniques were put to immediate use.

C Using a novel combination of optics and the overlapping of air photos to create three-dimensional pictures of terrain, the stereoscope was the next refinement in map making which was of limited value. Shortly thereafter, the photogrammetric stereoplotter improved upon the technology used by the stereoscope allowing cartographers to precisely measure the elevation of features in air photos and then transfer them to paper. After World War II had ended, this new technology led to an increased interest in cartography. Mappers began to use newly invented devices such as tellurometers, air profile recorders, magnetometers and scintillation counters. From these precision instruments came maps packed with information.

D In 1957, the Soviet satellite Sputnick 1 joined the moon in orbit around the earth. Although it only operated for 21 days, it began the ‘space race’ and shortly after a number of American and other Russian rockets were put into orbit progressing cartography into an even more sophisticated realm. Only a few years later in 1959 the first space photograph of earth was received. Pageos 1, launched by the United States in 1966, was the first satellite with an instrument package on board specifically designed for surveying the earth. Two years later, the American Satnav system was launched utilising six carefully positioned Transit satellites which fed back information for mapping based upon the Doppler effect. The Landsat 1 satellite launched in 1972 was the first satellite to collect data specifically on the earth’s surface and natural resources. More than 20 other equally spaced satellites now orbit the earth every 12 hours at an altitude of 20,000 kilometres. Navstar, the U.S. military’s global-positioning system can determine geodesic positioning accurate within millimetres anywhere on earth. What took months to plot and record in the past can now be easily done in an hour.

E In addition to all the advances in aerial satellite technology, some very advanced computer hardware has been designed to aide cartographers in map production. Storing trillions of bits of information and working with a Geographic Information System (GIS), the system uses geographic position as a common thread. Although it became popular in the 1990s, GISs were developed in the early 1960s. Programmed with topographic information – lakes, roads, rivers and place names – taken from existing sheets and updated from new surveys, a GIS was the next gigantic leap forward for cartographers. Maps, air photos, municipal plans and a host of other things can be scanned and entered and later on, updated and revised in an infinite number of ways on a computer terminal to create a virtually custom-made map every time. The distinction between map producer and map user becomes blurred with a GIS. A map of an urban neighbourhood may be brought up on the screen and by zooming in or out, streets, buildings, fields, lakes, street lamps, bus stops, even sewers can be displayed. But it goes even further: an associated database enables the operator to ascertain the number of people who live in the household, even property values can be listed. There is basically an unlimited amount of information which can be superimposed on a map using this system.

F A brief history of cartography shows that map types have changed to reflect the needs of the time. Thus, early maps depicted concrete, tangible features such as coastlines, rivers, mountains, roads and towns. Later, the focus moved to the spatial distribution of environmental phenomena – vegetation, soils, geology, and climate. Societal issues such as population and disease have also been closely examined. Most recently, attention has shifted to short-lived phenomena such as tornados, air pollution and floods, and to visualization of the results of conceptual modelling of environmental phenomena such as groundwater contamination. The trend has been one of shifting from simply mapping obvious features to discovering relationships and implications between different levels and layers of geographic information. It is clear today that cartography is closely associated with the broader field of scientific visualization. This technique takes the map-reader beyond the printed page and shows them terrain as if they were flying in a helicopter.

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Questions 15-19
Reading Passage 2 has six paragraphs A-F.
Choose the correct heading for sections B-F from the list of headings below. Write the appropriate numbers i-x in boxes 15-19 on your answer sheet.

List of headings
i transferring air photos to paper maps
ii computers make map production easy
iii maps for seeing into the future
iv the role of weather in map-making photography
v interest grows in map-making
vi map-making responsible for space programs
vii new process enables calculation of distance
viii the future of cartography rests with helicopters
ix the impact of satellites on map-making
x defining map making

Example: Section A             

Answer x

15 Section B
16 Section C
17 Section D
18 Section E
19 Section F

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Questions 20-23
Classify the following as first occurring
A between 1955 and 1960
B between 1960 and 1965
C between 1965 and 1970
D after 1970

Write the correct letter A, B, C or D in boxes 20-23 on your answer sheet.
20 The first images of the earth are taken in space.
21 Parts of the earth are mapped through use of radio waves.
22 A satellite is launched in search of forests, lakes and rivers.
23 Work began on what would be the most advanced map-making system in the future.

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Questions 24-26
The list below gives possible factors that contributed to improvements in cartography.

Which THREE of these factors are mentioned in the text?
A magnetometers
B Sputnick 1
C World War II
D stereoplotters
E aeroplanes and helicopters
F stereoscopes

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Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer


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