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.

When Rivers Become Ice Roads

Caitlin Dempsey

During the cold winter months, parts of Canada's Mackenzie River become a ice road that trucks up to 22,000 pounds can navigate.

A view across forest covered mountains with a band of fog stretching just below the peak of the far mountain.

Will Cool Air Pooling Protect Some Forests from Climate Change?

Caitlin Dempsey

Researchers looked at the link between cool air pooling and cold-adapted forest composition.

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.