Physical Geography

Physical geography focuses on geography as an Earth science (and is sometimes called Earth System Science).

Physical geography is a branch of geography that focuses on the study of the natural features and processes of the Earth’s surface. It includes the examination of landforms, climate, vegetation, soils, and water resources. Physical geographers use a range of scientific methods and tools to analyze and understand the complex interactions between the Earth’s physical systems.

Learn about the different branches of geography that fall under the physical geography category: climatology, geomorphology, biogeography, and more.

A photo looking up towards the sky of conifer trees on a blue sunny day.

Forecasting Phytoclimates 

Mark Altaweel

Based on a study of 135,153 vascular plant species, scientists predict 33-68% of global land will undergo major phytoclimate changes by 2070.

Photo taken at an oblique angle from the International Space Station showing Sutter Buttes.

The World’s Smallest Mountain Range

Caitlin Dempsey

Located about 55 miles north of Sacramento in Northern California, this small volcanic formation is known as "the world's smallest mountain range."

A grayscale map of the world with graduated symbols representing in pink observe bird extinctions, blue for fossils records, and orange for undiscovered bird extinctions.

Human-Driven Extinction of Birds

Mark Altaweel

Researchers using models an records calculate that as many as 11% of all bird species have gone extinct since the Late Pleistocene.

A map showing in orange the range of steller's jay and in blue the range of blue jay over a gray shaded relief map of the United States.

This Bird is Not the Only Crested Jay West of the Rocky Mountains

Caitlin Dempsey

Since the 1960s, blue jays have gradually extended their range past the Rocky Mountains into the western United States and Canada.

A weather model with a yellow to greens color gradient showing wind speed.

Weather Forecasting Using Artificial Intelligence

Mark Altaweel

GraphCast is a Google DeepMind effort that uses deep learning to improve medium-range weather forecasting.

123122 Next