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What Does a Geodesist Do?

By Karize Uy
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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In a nutshell, a geodesist applies as a profession geodesy or geodetics, the science concerned with the physical appearance and related measurements of the Earth’s surface, including bodies of water. He will often be required to analyze and measure large sections of land areas in order to produce a more complete picture of the Earth. Geodesists will also usually work with all sorts of data and figures that are vital for construction, cartography, mining, and other fields that make use of the land.

A geodesist may also study other subjects, such as the Earth’s gravitational and magnetic field and its rotation, because these natural phenomena may alter the topography of the Earth. Other phenomena that geodesists study include formation of new volcanoes and underground trenches, and even the melting of glaciers. In this way, whatever data comes out of geodesists’ analysis may help other scientists predict what may happen to the Earth’s landscape and come up with ideas to help prevent or adapt to the changes. In this light, natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions are also studied because they can seriously alter the appearance of the Earth. By studying the movement of the ground, a geodesist can identify the point of origin of, say, an earthquake, vital information for residents living nearby.

Another major task of a geodesist is to install a network of “land markers” all over the world to keep an eye on any changes on the landscape. The distance between one marker and another is usually documented, and after a period of time, geodesists will revisit the site to measure again the distance and see how much has changed. Installing land markers may require geodesists to travel to some places, which can be an advantage for a person who loves traveling.

To create visual images of the numerical data, a geodesist may also have to work on a computer and program animated simulations, a task that often requires the scientist to be tech-savvy. This data is often presented to related government agencies, construction companies, and to the public so that everyone can take precaution in using a certain land area. Geodesists need to have certain knowledge and skills in applied mathematics, physics, computer programming, and even in clerical work to perform effectively. Technology such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the 24 satellites that rotate around the Earth also help geodesists in their tasks. Many land markers have been equipped with a GPS system whose signals are transmitted by the satellites to the geodesists’ receiver, while the satellites can capture images of Earth that make for accurate measurements of ground movements.

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