Introduction to Physical Geography:
 Understanding Spatial Variation in Elements of the
 Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Geosphere

GE0 3200C

Syllabus



I. Representations of the Earth

 A. Location on the Earth
 B. Longitude and time
 C. Public lands survey system
 D. Maps and map projections

 Exercise: Constructing a gnomonic map projection

 Exercise: Reading a USGS topo map

E. Remote sensing
F. GIS
G. GPS
 

Test 1

II. The Atmosphere, Solar Energy, and Temperature

 A. The Earth as a planet
 B. Characteristics of the atmosphere
 C. Seasons
 D. Solar energy and atmospheric dynamics
 E. Heating of the atmosphere
 F. Air temperature

III. Atmospheric Pressure and Winds

 A. Measurement of air pressure
 B. Variations in atmospheric pressure
 C. Mapping pressure distribution
 D. Wind
 E. The Earth's surface wind system
 F. Upper-air winds
 G. Local winds

IV. Moisture, Condensation, and Precipitation

 A. The significance of water
 B. The hydrologic cycle
 C. Water in the atmosphere
 D. Sources of atmospheric moisture
 E. Condensation
 F. Precipitation

V. Air Masses and Atmospheric Disturbances

 A. Air masses
 B. Fronts
 C. Atmospheric disturbances
 

Test 2
 

VI. Climate Classification

 A. The special role of climate
 B. Scientific classification
 C. The Koppen system
 D. The distribution of climatic types
 E. Regionalization: a geographic concept
F. Climate, vegetation, and soils
G. Climate Change

VII. Climates and the Characteristics

 A. Humid tropical climatic regions
 B. Arid climatic regions
 C. Humid mesothermal climatic regions
 D. Humid microthermal climatic regions
 E. Polar climatic regions
 F. Highland climatic regions

 Exercise: Climographs, the Koppen system, and location
 
 

VIII. Ecosystems and Their Distribution

 A. Organization within ecosystems
 B. Succession and climax communities
 C. Environmental controls
 D. Classification of terrestrial ecosystems
 E. Forest biomes
 F. Grassland biomes
 G. Desert
 H. Arctic and alpine tundra
 I. Marine ecosystems

Test 3

IX. Soils and soil development

 A. Principal soil components
 B. Characteristics of soil
 C. Soil profile development
 D. Factors affecting soil formation
 E. Soil-forming regimes
 F. Soil classification

X. Earth Structure, Plate Tectonics, and Landform Classification

 A. Introduction to landforms
 B. The structure of the earth
 C. Plate tectonics
 D. Landform classification

 Exercise: Topographic profiles

XI. The Earth's Crust and Tectonic Processes

 A. Composition of the Earth's crust
 B. Magmatic processes
 C. Solid tectonic processes

XII. Gradation, Weathering, and Mass Movement

 A. Gradation and tectonism
 B. Weathering
 C. Mass movement
D. Weather, mass movement, and the landscape

Test 4

XIII. Landforms and Underground and Surface Water

 A. Occurrence and supply of groundwater
 B. Availability of groundwater
 C. Land sculpture by underground water
 D. Stream systems
 E. Land sculpture by streams
 F. The fluvial cycle of erosion
 G. The importance of surface waters

XIV. Landforms of Desert Regions

 A. Water in the desert
 B. Wind as a gradational agent
 C. The erosion cycle in deserts

XV. Glacial Systems

 A. Glacier formation and the hydrologic cycle
 B. Features of alpine glaciers
 C. Continental ice sheets

XVI. The Global Ocean and Coastal Landforms

 A. Introduction to the oceans
 B. The ocean floor
 C. Islands and coral reefs
 D. Tides and waves
 E. Coastal landforms and processes
 

Test 5
 
 
 

Textbook: Gabler, Sager, Wise, and Petersen. Essentials of Physical Geography, 6th Edition, Saunders College Publishing, 1999.
 

Grading: Final grade is derived from five exams, equally weighted.  Fifth exam is the final and is not cumulative.  Class attendance is recorded.  Curves are added to exam scores only if you have no more than three unexcused absences over the course of the semester.  After curving,  92 up = A, 90-91 = A-, 88-89 = B+, 82-87 = B, 80-81 = B-, 78-79 = C+, 72-77 = C, 70-71 = C-, 68-69 = D+, 62-67 = D, 60-61 = D-, below 60 = F.