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.

Diagram of the fast carbon cycle shows the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans.(Diagram adapted from U.S. DOE, Biological and Environmental Research Information System.)

Various Forms of Carbon Sequestration: Helping the Overloaded Carbon Cycle

Meika Jensen

There are three main ways in which carbon can be removed from the atmosphere: physical processes, chemical processes and biological processes.

Animation of Southern Lights (Aurora Australis)

Caitlin Dempsey

This animation of the Southern Lights was recorded on September 11, 2005, four days after a solar flare sent an ionized gas of protons and electrons known as plasma towards the earth.  

Bristlecone pine forest in Great Basin National Park. Photo: USGS, public domain.

Island Biogeography of the Great Basin

Rachel Quist

The theory of island biogeography is one of the explanations as to why speciation occurs.

Map of Global Temperatures Since 1880

Caitlin Dempsey

NASA takes a look at global temperatures and has a short piece and animated map showing the global change in ...

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of the MODIS Land Group. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

Deadly Cold Across Europe and Russia

Caitlin Dempsey

This image shows the impact of the cold snap on land surface temperatures across the region from December 11 to 18, 2009, compared to the 2000-2008 average.