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Physical geography (also known as physiography) is one of the two fields of
geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10. ...

geography
. Physical geography is the branch of
natural science Natural science is a Branches of science, branch of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Phenomenon, natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Mechanisms such as peer r ...

natural science
which deals with the processes and patterns in the
natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all life, living and non-living things occurring nature, naturally, meaning in this case not Artificiality, artificial. The term is most often applied to the Earth or some parts of Earth. Th ...

natural environment
such as the
atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a layer or a set of layers of gases surrounding a planet or other material body, that is held in ...

atmosphere
,
hydrosphere The hydrosphere (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is app ...
,
biosphere The biosphere (from βίος ''bíos'' "life" and σφαῖρα ''sphaira'' "sphere"), also known as the ecosphere (from Greek οἶκος ''oîkos'' "environment" and σφαῖρα), is the worldwide sum of all s. It can also be termed the zo ...
, and
geosphere There are several conflicting definitions for geosphere. It may be taken as the collective name for the lithosphere A lithosphere ( grc, wikt:λίθος#Ancient Greek, λίθος [] for "rocky", and [] for "sphere") is the rigid, outermost s ...

geosphere
, as opposed to the cultural or
built environment In urban planning, architecture and civil engineering, the term built environment, or built world, refers to the human impact on the environment, human-made environment that provides the setting for human behavior, human activity, including Home, ...
, the domain of
human geography Human geography or anthropogeography is the branch of that is associated and deals with humans and their relationships with communities, cultures, economies, and interactions with the environment by studying their relations with and across loca ...
.


Sub-branches

Physical geography can be divided into several branches or related fields, as follows: *
Geomorphology incised into shale at the foot of the North Caineville Plateau, Utah, within the pass carved by the Fremont River (Utah), Fremont River and known as the Blue Gate. Grove Karl Gilbert, GK Gilbert studied the landscapes of this area in great detail, ...

Geomorphology
is concerned with understanding the
surface File:Water droplet lying on a damask.jpg, Water droplet lying on a damask. Surface tension is high enough to prevent floating below the textile. A surface, as the term is most generally used, is the outermost or uppermost layer of a physical obje ...
of the Earth and the processes by which it is shaped, both at the present as well as in the past. Geomorphology as a field has several sub-fields that deal with the specific
landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws ...

landform
s of various environments e.g.
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
geomorphology and
fluvial In geography and geology, fluvial processes are associated with rivers and streams and the Deposition (geology), deposits and landforms created by them. When the stream or rivers are associated with glaciers, ice sheets, or ice caps, the term glaci ...
geomorphology; however, these sub-fields are united by the core processes which cause them, mainly tectonic or climatic processes. Geomorphology seeks to understand
landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws ...

landform
history and dynamics, and predict future changes through a combination of field observation, physical experiment, and numerical modeling (
GeomorphometryGeomorphometry, or geomorphometrics ( grc, γῆ, gê, earth + grc, μορφή, morphḗ, form, shape + grc, μέτρον, métron, measure), is the science and practice of measuring the characteristics of terrain, the shape of the surface of the E ...
). Early studies in geomorphology are the foundation for pedology, one of two main branches of
soil science Soil science is the study of soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="glacial till, Northern Ireland">glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, mine ...
. *
Hydrology Hydrology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxi ...
is predominantly concerned with the amounts and quality of water moving and accumulating on the land surface and in the soils and rocks near the surface and is typified by the
hydrological cycle The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or the hydrological cycle, describes the continuous movement of water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, ...
. Thus the field encompasses water in
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of wate ...

river
s,
lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable ove ...

lake
s,
aquifer An aquifer is an underground layer of -bearing , rock fractures or unconsolidated materials (, , or ). can be extracted using a water . The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called . Related terms include a ...

aquifer
s and to an extent
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glacier
s, in which the field examines the process and dynamics involved in these bodies of water. Hydrology has historically had an important connection with
engineering Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more speciali ...

engineering
and has thus developed a largely quantitative method in its research; however, it does have an
earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Ta ...
side that embraces the systems approach. Similar to most fields of physical geography it has sub-fields that examine the specific bodies of water or their interaction with other spheres e.g.
limnology Limnology ( ; from Greek λίμνη, ''limne'', "lake" and λόγος, ''logos'', "knowledge") is the study of inland aquatic ecosystems. The study of limnology includes aspects of the biology, biological, chemistry, chemical, physics, physical, ...
and
ecohydrologyEcohydrology (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
. *
Glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glacier.html" ;"title="moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier">moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt, Swiss Alps. The moraine is the high bank of ...
is the study of
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glacier
s and
ice sheets In glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glacier.html" ;"title="moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier">moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt, Swiss Alps. The moraine is ...
, or more commonly the
cryosphere The cryosphere (from the Greek ''kryos'', "cold", "frost" or "ice" and ''sphaira'', "globe, ball") is an all-encompassing term for those portions of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to ...
or
ice Ice is water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for all known forms of , eve ...

ice
and phenomena that involve ice. Glaciology groups the latter (ice sheets) as continental glaciers and the former (glaciers) as alpine glaciers. Although research in the areas is similar to research undertaken into both the dynamics of ice sheets and glaciers, the former tends to be concerned with the interaction of ice sheets with the present climate and the latter with the impact of glaciers on the landscape. Glaciology also has a vast array of sub-fields examining the factors and processes involved in ice sheets and glaciers e.g.
snow Snow comprises individual ice Ice is water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). ...

snow
hydrology and
glacial geology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glacier.html" ;"title="moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier">moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt, Swiss Alps. The moraine is the high bank of ...
. *
Biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geography, geographic space and through evolutionary history of life, geological time. Organisms and biological communities often vary in a regular fashion along geograp ...

Biogeography
is the science which deals with geographic patterns of species distribution and the processes that result in these patterns. Biogeography emerged as a field of study as a result of the work of
Alfred Russel Wallace Alfred Russel Wallace (8 January 18237 November 1913) was a British natural history, naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, biologist and illustrator. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution throug ...
, although the field prior to the late twentieth century had largely been viewed as historic in its outlook and descriptive in its approach. The main stimulus for the field since its founding has been that of
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
,
plate tectonics upright=1.35, Diagram of the internal layering of Earth showing the lithosphere above the asthenosphere (not to scale) Plate tectonics (from the la, label=Late Latin Late Latin ( la, Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the written L ...
and the theory of island biogeography. The field can largely be divided into five sub-fields:
island biogeography Insular biogeography or island biogeography is a field within biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geography, geographic space and through evolutionary history of life, geological time. Organis ...
, paleobiogeography,
phylogeography Phylogeography is the study of the historical processes that may be responsible for the past to present geographic distributions of genealogical lineages. This is accomplished by considering the geographic distribution of individuals in light of ge ...
,
zoogeography Zoogeography is the branch of the science of biogeography that is concerned with geographic distribution (present and past) of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), bi ...
and
phytogeography Phytogeography (from Greek φυτόν, ''phytón'' = "plant" and γεωγραφία, ''geographía'' = "geography" meaning also distribution) or botanical geography is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution ...
. *
Climatology Climatology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appr ...
is the study of the
climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a la ...

climate
, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a long period of time. Climatology examines both the nature of micro (local) and macro (global) climates and the natural and
anthropogenic Anthropogenic ("human" + "generating") is an adjective that may refer to: * Anthropogeny, the study of the origins of humanity Counterintuitively, anthropogenic may also refer to things that have been generated by humans, as follows: * Human imp ...
influences on them. The field is also sub-divided largely into the climates of various regions and the study of specific phenomena or time periods e.g. tropical cyclone rainfall climatology and
paleoclimatology Paleoclimatology (, palaeoclimatology) is the study of s for which direct measurements were not taken. As instrumental records only span a tiny part of , the reconstruction of ancient climate is important to understand natural variation and the e ...
. * Soil geography deals with the distribution of soils across the
terrain Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a desc ...

terrain
. This discipline is fundamental to both physical geography and
pedology Pedology (from Greek: πέδον, ''pedon'', "soil"; and λόγος, ''logos'', "study") is a discipline within soil science Soil science is the study of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, N ...
. Pedology is the study of soils in their natural environment. It deals with
pedogenesis Pedogenesis (from the Greek ''pedo''-, or ''pedon'', meaning 'soil, earth,' and ''genesis'', meaning 'origin, birth') (also termed soil development, soil evolution, soil formation, and soil genesis) is the process of soil formation as regulated ...
,
soil morphologySoil morphology is the study of the formation and description of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms th ...
,
soil classification Soil classification deals with the systematic categorization Categorization is the ability and activity to recognize shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such as Object (philosophy), objects, ev ...
. Soil geography studies the spatial distribution of soils as it relates to
topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surface Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an ...
, climate (water, air, temperature),
soil life This table is a résumé of soil life, , ''Les Bases de la Production Végetal, tome I: Le Sol et son amélioration''Collection Sciences et Téchniques Agricoles 2003 coherent with prevalent taxonomy as used in the linked Wikipedia articles. Re ...
(micro-organisms, plants, animals) and mineral materials within soils (
biogeochemical cycle In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Topics of interest include the bi ...
s). *
Palaeogeography area during the Middle Devonian period. Image:Pangea animation 03.gif, upright=1.4, Animation of the break-up of the supercontinent Pangaea and the subsequent drift of its constituents, from the Early Triassic to recent (250 Ma to 0). Palaeoge ...
is a cross-disciplinary study that examines the preserved material in the stratigraphic record to determine the distribution of the continents through geologic time. Almost all the evidence for the positions of the continents comes from
geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek ...

geology
in the form of
fossil A fossil (from Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, inc ...

fossil
s or
paleomagnetism Paleomagnetism, American and British English spelling differences#ae and oe, or palaeomagnetism, is the study of the record of the Earth's magnetic field in rocks, sediment, or archeological materials. Magnetic minerals in rocks can lock-in a re ...
. The use of these data has resulted in evidence for
continental drift Continental drift is the hypothesis that the Earth's continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly reg ...
,
plate tectonics upright=1.35, Diagram of the internal layering of Earth showing the lithosphere above the asthenosphere (not to scale) Plate tectonics (from the la, label=Late Latin Late Latin ( la, Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the written L ...
, and supercontinents. This, in turn, has supported palaeogeographic theories such as the Wilson cycle. *
Coastal geography Coastal geography is the study of the constantly changing region between the ocean and the land, incorporating both the physical geography Physical geography (also known as physiography) is one of the two fields of geography Geogra ...
is the study of the dynamic interface between the ocean and the land, incorporating both the physical geography (i.e. coastal geomorphology, geology, and oceanography) and the human geography of the coast. It involves an understanding of coastal
weathering Weathering is the deterioration of Rock (geology), rocks, soils and minerals as well as wood and artificial materials through contact with water, atmospheric gases, and biological organisms. Weathering occurs ''in situ'' (on site, with little o ...
processes, particularly wave action, sediment movement and weathering, and also the ways in which humans interact with the coast. Coastal geography, although predominantly geomorphological in its research, is not just concerned with coastal landforms, but also the causes and influences of sea level change. *
Oceanography Oceanography (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period ...
is the branch of physical geography that studies the Earth's oceans and seas. It covers a wide range of topics, including marine organisms and ecosystem dynamics ( biological oceanography); ocean currents, waves, and geophysical fluid dynamics (
physical oceanography Physical oceanography is the study of physics, physical conditions and physical processes within the ocean, especially the motions and physical properties of ocean waters. Physical oceanography is one of several sub-domains into which oceanograph ...
); plate tectonics and the geology of the sea floor ( geological oceanography); and fluxes of various chemical substances and physical properties within the ocean and across its boundaries (
chemical oceanography Chemical oceanography is a broad and complex study of the metamorphosis that the chemicals within oceans, living marine organisms, and the ocean floor. The ocean contains a multitude of chemicals; some are natural, and others are man-made. Thes ...
). These diverse topics reflect multiple disciplines that oceanographers blend to further knowledge of the world ocean and understanding of processes within it. *
Quaternary science Quaternary science is the study which represents the systematic study of the Quaternary Period Quaternary ( ) is the current and most recent of the three periods of the Cenozoic The Cenozoic Era ( ) meaning "new life" is the current and most ...
is an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on the
Quaternary The Quaternary ( ) is the current and most recent of the three period (geology), periods of the Cenozoic era (geology), Era in the geologic time scale of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). It follows the Neogene Period and spans ...
period, which encompasses the last 2.6 million years. The field studies the last ice age and the recent
interstadial Stadials and interstadials are phases dividing the Quaternary period, or the last 2.6 million years. Stadials are periods of colder climate while interstadials are periods of warmer climate. Each Quaternary climate phase is associated with a Mari ...
the
Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene E ...
and uses proxy evidence to reconstruct the past environments during this period to infer the climatic and environmental changes that have occurred. *
Landscape ecology Landscape ecology is the science of studying and improving relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems. This is done within a variety of landscape scales, development spatial patterns, and organizatio ...
is a sub-discipline of
ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biol ...
and geography that address how spatial variation in the landscape affects ecological processes such as the distribution and flow of energy, materials, and individuals in the environment (which, in turn, may influence the distribution of landscape "elements" themselves such as hedgerows). The field was largely funded by the German geographer
Carl Troll Carl Troll (24 December 1899 in Gabersee – 21 July 1975 in Bonn), was a Germany, German geographer, brother of botanist Wilhelm Troll. From 1919 until 1922 Troll studied biology, chemistry, geology, geography and physics at the University of Muni ...
. Landscape ecology typically deals with problems in an applied and holistic context. The main difference between biogeography and landscape ecology is that the latter is concerned with how flows or energy and material are changed and their impacts on the landscape whereas the former is concerned with the spatial patterns of species and chemical cycles. *
Geomatics Geomatics is defined in the ISO/TC 211 ISO/TC 211 is a standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard ...
is the field of gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic information, or spatially referenced information. Geomatics includes geodesy (scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the earth, its gravitational field, and other geodynamic phenomena, such as crustal motion, oceanic tides, and polar motion), geographical information science (GIS) and
remote sensing Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object, in contrast to in situ ''In situ'' (; often not italicized in English) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a class ...

remote sensing
(the short or large-scale acquisition of information of an object or phenomenon, by the use of either recording or real-time sensing devices that are not in physical or intimate contact with the object). *
Environmental geography Integrated geography (also referred to as integrative geography, environmental geography or human–environment geography) is the branch of geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of sc ...
is a branch of geography that analyzes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. The branch bridges the divide between human and physical geography and thus requires an understanding of the dynamics of geology, meteorology, hydrology, biogeography, and geomorphology, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment. Although the branch was previously more visible in research than at present with theories such as
environmental determinism Environmental determinism (also known as climatic determinism or geographical determinism) is the study of how the physical environment predisposes societies and states towards particular development trajectories. Jared Diamond, Jeffrey Herbst, I ...
linking society with the environment. It has largely become the domain of the study of environmental management or anthropogenic influences.


Journals and literature

Physical geography and earth science journals communicate and document the results of research carried out in universities and various other research institutions. Most journals cover a specific field and publish the research within that field, however unlike human geographers, physical geographers tend to publish in inter-disciplinary journals rather than predominantly geography journal; the research is normally expressed in the form of a
scientific paper : ''For a broader class of literature, see Academic publishing Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal articles, books or thes ...
. Additionally, textbooks, books, and magazines on geography communicate research to laypeople, although these tend to focus on
environmental issues Environmental issues are harmful Human impact on the environment, effects of human activity on the biophysical environment. Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on the individual, organizational or governme ...
or cultural dilemmas. Examples of journals that publish articles from physical geographers are:


Historical evolution of the discipline

From the birth of geography as a science during the Greek classical period and until the late nineteenth century with the birth of anthropogeography (human geography), geography was almost exclusively a natural science: the study of location and descriptive gazetteer of all places of the known world. Several works among the best known during this long period could be cited as an example, from
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
(''Geography''),
Eratosthenes Eratosthenes of Cyrene (; grc-gre, Ἐρατοσθένης ;  – ) was a Greek polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a ...

Eratosthenes
(''Geographika'') or Dionisio Periegetes (''Periegesis Oiceumene'') in the Ancient Age. In more modern times, these works include the
Alexander von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 17696 May 1859) was a , , , , and proponent of philosophy and . He was the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and (1767–1835). Humboldt's quantitative work ...

Alexander von Humboldt
(''Kosmos'') in the nineteenth century, in which geography is regarded as a physical and natural science through the work ''Summa de Geografía'' of from the early sixteenth century, which indicated for the first time the New World. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a controversy exported from geology, between supporters of
James Hutton James Hutton (; 3 June 172614 June 1726 New Style Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) indicate a dating system from before and after a calendar change, respectively. Usually this is the change from the Julian calendar The Julian c ...

James Hutton
(uniformitarianism thesis) and
Georges Cuvier Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (; 23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any orga ...

Georges Cuvier
(catastrophism) strongly influenced the field of geography, because geography at this time was a natural science. Two historical events during the nineteenth century had a great effect on the further development of physical geography. The first was the European colonial expansion in
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
,
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
and even
America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and a ...

America
in search of raw materials required by industries during the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
. This fostered the creation of geography departments in the universities of the colonial powers and the birth and development of national geographical societies, thus giving rise to the process identified by Horacio Capel as the institutionalization of geography. The exploration of Siberia is an example. In the mid-eighteenth century, many geographers were sent to perform geographical surveys in the area of Arctic
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of R ...

Siberia
. Among these is who is considered the patriarch of Russian geography,
Mikhail Lomonosov Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (; russian: Михаил (Михайло) Васильевич Ломоносов, p=mʲɪxɐˈil vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ , a=Ru-Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov.ogg; – ) was a Russian polymath A polymath ( e ...

Mikhail Lomonosov
. In the mid-1750s Lomonosov began working in the Department of Geography, Academy of Sciences to conduct research in Siberia. They showed the organic origin of soil and developed a comprehensive law on the movement of the ice, thereby founding a new branch of geography:
glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glacier.html" ;"title="moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier">moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt, Swiss Alps. The moraine is the high bank of ...
. In 1755 on his initiative was founded
Moscow University Moscow State University (MSU; russian: Московский государственный университет имени М. В. Ломоносова, often abbreviated МГУ, ''MGU'') is a public In public relations Public relati ...
where he promoted the study of geography and the training of geographers. In 1758 he was appointed director of the Department of Geography, Academy of Sciences, a post from which would develop a working methodology for geographical survey guided by the most important long expeditions and geographical studies in Russia. The contributions of the Russian school became more frequent through his disciples, and in the nineteenth century we have great geographers such as
Vasily Dokuchaev Vasily Vasilyevich Dokuchaev (russian: Васи́лий Васи́льевич Докуча́ев; March 1, 1846 – November 8, 1903) was a Russians, Russian geologist and geographer who is credited with laying the foundations of soil sci ...
who performed works of great importance as a "principle of comprehensive analysis of the territory" and "Russian
Chernozem Chernozem (from rus, чернозём, p=tɕɪrnɐˈzʲɵm, r=chernozyom; "black ground") is a black-colored soil containing a high percentage of humus (4% to 16%) and high percentages of phosphoric acids, phosphorus, and ammonia. Chernozem i ...
". In the latter, he introduced the geographical concept of soil, as distinct from a simple geological stratum, and thus found a new geographic area of study:
pedology Pedology (from Greek: πέδον, ''pedon'', "soil"; and λόγος, ''logos'', "study") is a discipline within soil science Soil science is the study of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, N ...
. Climatology also received a strong boost from the Russian school by
Wladimir Köppen Wladimir Peter Köppen (; russian: Влади́мир Петро́вич Кёппен, translit=Vladímir Petróvič Këppen); 25 September 1846 – 22 June 1940) was a Russian-German geographer A geographer is a physical scientist, social sc ...
whose main contribution, climate classification, is still valid today. However, this great geographer also contributed to the paleogeography through his work "The climates of the geological past" which is considered the father of
paleoclimatology Paleoclimatology (, palaeoclimatology) is the study of s for which direct measurements were not taken. As instrumental records only span a tiny part of , the reconstruction of ancient climate is important to understand natural variation and the e ...
. Russian geographers who made great contributions to the discipline in this period were: NM Sibirtsev, Pyotr Semyonov, Konstantin Glinka, K.D. Glinka, Neustrayev, among others. The second important process is the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin, Darwin in mid-century (which decisively influenced the work of Friedrich Ratzel, who had academic training as a zoologist and was a follower of Darwin's ideas) which meant an important impetus in the development of Biogeography. Another major event in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries took place in the United States. William Morris Davis not only made important contributions to the establishment of discipline in his country but revolutionized the field to develop cycle of erosion theory which he proposed as a paradigm for geography in general, although in actually served as a paradigm for physical geography. His theory explained that mountains and other landforms are shaped by factors that are manifested cyclically. He explained that the cycle begins with the lifting of the relief by geological processes (faults, volcanism, tectonic upheaval, etc.). Factors such as rivers and runoff begin to create V-shaped valleys between the mountains (the stage called "youth"). During this first stage, the terrain is steeper and more irregular. Over time, the currents can carve wider valleys ("maturity") and then start to wind, towering hills only ("senescence"). Finally, everything comes to what is a plain flat plain at the lowest elevation possible (called "baseline") This plain was called by Davis' "peneplain" meaning "almost plain" Then river rejuvenation occurs and there is another mountain lift and the cycle continues. Although Davis's theory is not entirely accurate, it was absolutely revolutionary and unique in its time and helped to modernize and create a geography subfield of geomorphology. Its implications prompted a myriad of research in various branches of physical geography. In the case of the Paleogeography, this theory provided a model for understanding the evolution of the landscape. For hydrology, glaciology, and climatology as a boost investigated as studying geographic factors shape the landscape and affect the cycle. The bulk of the work of William Morris Davis led to the development of a new branch of physical geography: Geomorphology whose contents until then did not differ from the rest of geography. Shortly after this branch would present a major development. Some of his disciples made significant contributions to various branches of physical geography such as Curtis Marbut and his invaluable legacy for Pedology, Mark Jefferson (geographer), Mark Jefferson, Isaiah Bowman, among others.


Notable physical geographers

*
Eratosthenes Eratosthenes of Cyrene (; grc-gre, Ἐρατοσθένης ;  – ) was a Greek polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a ...

Eratosthenes
(276194 BC) who invented the discipline of geography. He made the first known reliable estimation of the Earth's size. He is considered the father of mathematical geography and geodesy.Avraham Ariel, Nora Ariel Berger (2006)."
Plotting the globe: stories of meridians, parallels, and the international
'". Greenwood Publishing Group. p.12.
* Ptolemy (Wiktionary:circa, c. 90c. 168), who compiled Greek and Roman knowledge to produce the book ''Geography (Ptolemy), Geographia''. * Abū Rayhān Bīrūnī (9731048 AD), considered the father of geodesy.Akbar S. Ahmed (1984). "Al-Beruni: The First Anthropologist", ''RAIN'' 60, pp. 9–10.H. Mowlana (2001). "Information in the Arab World", ''Cooperation South Journal'' 1. * Avicenna, Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 980–1037), who formulated the law of superposition and concept of Uniformitarianism (science), uniformitarianism in ''Kitāb al-Šifāʾ'' (also called ''The Book of Healing)''. * Muhammad al-Idrisi (Dreses, 1100), who drew the ''Tabula Rogeriana'', the most accurate world map in pre-modern times.S. P. Scott (1904), ''History of the Moorish Empire'', pp. 461–2: * Piri Reis (1465c. 1554), whose Piri Reis map is the oldest surviving world map to include the Americas and possibly Antarctica * Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594), an innovative Cartography, cartographer and originator of the Mercator projection. * Bernhardus Varenius (1622–1650), Wrote his important work "General Geography" (1650), first overview of the geography, the foundation of modern geography. *
Mikhail Lomonosov Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (; russian: Михаил (Михайло) Васильевич Ломоносов, p=mʲɪxɐˈil vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ , a=Ru-Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov.ogg; – ) was a Russian polymath A polymath ( e ...

Mikhail Lomonosov
(1711–1765), father of Russian geography and founded the study of glaciology. *
Alexander von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 17696 May 1859) was a , , , , and proponent of philosophy and . He was the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and (1767–1835). Humboldt's quantitative work ...

Alexander von Humboldt
(1769–1859), considered the father of modern geography. Published ''Cosmos (Humboldt), Cosmos'' and founded the study of biogeography. * Arnold Henry Guyot (1807–1884), who noted the structure of glaciers and advanced the understanding of glacial motion, especially in fast ice flow. * Louis Agassiz (1807–1873), the author of a glacial theory which disputed the notion of a steady-cooling Earth. *
Alfred Russel Wallace Alfred Russel Wallace (8 January 18237 November 1913) was a British natural history, naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, biologist and illustrator. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution throug ...
(1823–1913), founder of modern biogeography and the Wallace line. *
Vasily Dokuchaev Vasily Vasilyevich Dokuchaev (russian: Васи́лий Васи́льевич Докуча́ев; March 1, 1846 – November 8, 1903) was a Russians, Russian geologist and geographer who is credited with laying the foundations of soil sci ...
(1840–1903), patriarch of Russian geography and founder of pedology. * Wladimir Peter Köppen (1846–1940), developer of most important climate classification and founder of Paleoclimatology. * William Morris Davis (1850–1934), father of American geography, founder of Geomorphology and developer of the geographical cycle theory. * John Francon Williams FRGS (1854-1911), wrote his seminal work ''Geography of the Oceans'' published in 1881. * Walther Penck (1888–1923), proponent of the cycle of erosion and the simultaneous occurrence of Tectonic uplift, uplift and denudation. * Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922), Antarctic explorer during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. * Robert E. Horton (1875–1945), founder of modern hydrology and concepts such as infiltration capacity and overland flow. * J Harlen Bretz (1882–1981), pioneer of research into the shaping of landscapes by catastrophic floods, most notably the Missoula Floods, Bretz (Missoula) floods. * Luis García Sáinz (1894–1965), pioneer of physical geography in Spain. * Willi Dansgaard (1922–2011), palaeoclimatologist and quaternary scientist, instrumental in the use of oxygen-isotope dating and co-identifier of Dansgaard-Oeschger events. * Hans Oeschger (1927–1998), palaeoclimatologist and pioneer in ice core research, co-identifier of Dansgaard-Orschger events. * Richard Chorley (1927–2002), a key contributor to the quantitative revolution and the use of systems theory in geography. * Sir Nicholas Shackleton (1937–2006), who demonstrated that oscillations in climate over the past few million years could be correlated with variations in the orbital and positional relationship between the Earth and the Sun.


See also

*Atmosphere of Earth *Earth system science *Ecology *Environmental science *Environmental studies *Human geography *Geostatistics *
Oceanography Oceanography (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period ...
*Weathering *Physiographic regions of the world


References


Further reading

* * * Pidwirny, Michael. (2014). ''Glossary of Terms for Physical Geography.'' Planet Earth Publishing, Kelowna, Canada. . Available o
Google Play
* Pidwirny, Michael. (2014). ''Understanding Physical Geography.'' Planet Earth Publishing, Kelowna, Canada. . Available o
Google Play
* Reynolds, Stephen J. et al. (2015). ''Exploring Physical Geography.'' [A Visual Textbook, Featuring more than 2500 Photographies & Illustrations]. McGraw-Hill Education, New York. * * * *


External links


Physiography by T.X. Huxley, 1878
full text, physical geography of the Thames River Basin

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