Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2009, Vol. 64 ›› Issue (1): 7-20.doi: 10.11821/xb200901002

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Development of Virtual Geographic Environments and the New Initiative in Experimental Geography

LIN Hui1, HUANG Fengru1, LU Guonian2   

  1. 1. Institute of Space and Earth Information Science,Chinese University of Hong Kong,Shatin,HK,China;
    2. Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment,Nanjing Normal University,Ministry of Education, Nanjing 210046,China
  • Received:2008-10-12 Revised:2008-11-05 Online:2009-01-25 Published:2009-01-25
  • Supported by:

    The National "863" High Technology Research and Development Program of China, No.2006AA12Z207;HKSAR RGC project No.CUHK447807; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40730527;Jiangsu Provincial Higher Education Key Program, No.05KJAD001


Virtual Geographic Environments (VGE) is an integrated virtual space which is used to simulate and analyze complex phenomena and process of geography. It supports activities of research on geography as collaborative work, knowledge sharing and group decision-making. It can become one of the scientific methods and advanced technologies of modern experimental geography study. In the paper, the development process and progress of VGE and experimental geography are introduced, the roll and prospect of VGE and virtual geographic experiment on modern experimental geography are focused, key issues and existing misunderstanding about current studies on VGE are discussed. Integrated research on VGE and experimental geography highlights the importance of geographic model and knowledge in geography study, stresses that VGE can promote the theory and methods of modern experimental geography study, and contribute to the development of geographic science.

Key words: Virtual Geographic Environments (VGE), experimental geography, geographic model, geographic virtual lab, GIS