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.

Three side-by-side satellite images showing the emergence of an ephemeral lake in Badwater Basin.

North America’s Lowest Point on Land is Currently a Lake

Caitlin Dempsey

Two recent heavy rainfall events have filled Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America on land, up with water.

A dark photo taken at night showing lightning and a purple sky around the lightning.

Geography of Lightning Strikes in the United States

Caitlin Dempsey

Researchers recently mapped out data from the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) between 2017 and 2022 to see where lightning strikes the most across the contiguous United States.

A silhouette of an ibex at sunset with the horns showing.

Why Climate Change is Making Some Animals More Nocturnal

Caitlin Dempsey

Increase daytime heat linked to climate change is driving some wildlife to become more active at night.

A seabird with wings outstretched flying out from the ocean with water splashing around the bird.

Individual Seabird Adaption to Climate Change

Mark Altaweel

Scientists tracked the migratory patterns of 145 seabirds to map how individual shearwaters are adapting to climate change.

Satellite imagery of an atoll.

Geography of Atolls

Caitlin Dempsey

Atolls are ring-shaped coral reefs, islands, or a series of islets that encircle a lagoon either partially or completely.