Spatial scale

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In the physical sciences, spatial scale or simply scale refers to the order of magnitude of extent or size of a land area or geographical distance studied or described.

Examples of scales in geography and metereology
Scale Length Area Description
Micro 1 m – 1 km 1 m2 – 1 km2 local
Meso 1 km - 100 km 1 km2 - 10,000 km2 regional
Macro 100 km - 10,000 km 10,000 km2 - 100,000,000 km2 continental
Mega > 10,000 km > 100,000,000 km2 global

For instance, in physics an object or phenomenon can be called microscopic if too small to be visible. In climatology, a micro-climate is a climate which might occur in a mountain, valley or near a lake shore. In statistics, a megatrend is a political, social, economical, environmental or technological trend which involves the whole planet or is supposed to last a very large amount of time. The concept is also used in geography, astronomy, and meteorology.

These divisions are somewhat arbitrary; where, on this table, mega- is assigned global scope, it may only apply continentally or even regionally in other contexts. The interpretations of meso- and macro- must then be adjusted accordingly.

This animation gives a sense of the awe-inspiring scale of some of the known objects in our universe.

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