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.

Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Impact Craters

Elizabeth Borneman

Impact craters are the result of an object hitting a larger surface at hypervelocity creating a circular depression in the ...

This EPOXI mission image shows what an Earth-like exoplanet might look like from afar. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD/GSFC

What is Exo-cartography? Mapping the Climate and Surface of Exoplanets

Elizabeth Borneman

Exo-cartography or extrasolar cartography is the science of mapping planets that are outside of Earth’s solar system.

Female (upper bird) and male (lower bird) Passenger Pigeons. Reproduced from the John J. Audubon Plate

Centennial of the Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon

Caitlin Dempsey

September 1, 2014 marks the hundred year anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.  Passenger pigeons were once the ...

GPS sites showing the measured displacement. As the drought deepens in March of 2014, the red dots showed the greatest uplift in the Sierra Mountains. Source: Borsa et al.

Tracking the Effects of Drought in the Western U.S. with GPS

Caitlin Dempsey

The effects of the drought that has stricken the western United States can be measured with GPS.  As anyone who ...

Rud-e-Gaz and Rud-e-Hara Wetlands, Iran

Caitlin Dempsey

This satellite image captured of southern Iran shows what an arid and inhospitable area most of this region is.