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Updated: 03 Nov 2022

Posted By: Jacob

Geography is the study of the land and environment of Earth. The other branch of geography, human geography studies the earth's surface from the lens of human interaction with the surface of the Earth and its environment. Due to the ever-changing landscape of the Earth, physical geography is extensively used in our everyday life. It helps with making small decisions such as 'What to wear today' and also long-term decisions such as migration patterns for humans.

The study areas of physical geography encompass the physical features of Earth, the climate and environment of Earth, and the distribution of flora and fauna across various regions. Physical geography explores how a particular land was formed, the different kinds of climate it experiences, the water surrounding it and the relationship between the two, and finally, the living beings occupying the specified region.

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Exploring Physical Geography With Earth Systems

The four Earth systems which can guide us in introducing physical geography are the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. The atmosphere entails the portion of the Earth which contributes to the air we breathe in, the ozone layer, clouds, and weather. The lithosphere is the rocky portion and the outermost portion of the Earth's surface. It is the bottom layer of oceans and is responsible for the various continents. The hydrosphere describes those portions which contain water such as the rocks below the Earth's surface, rivers, seas, oceans, ice caps, the water present in the flora and fauna, and finally the atmospheric water. Lastly, the biosphere makes up all the regions where living beings are present such as tropical rainforests, deserts, or the icy polar continents.

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The Relevance and Usages of Studies in Physical Geography

Importance Of Its Various Branches

For a doctoral student in the field, the description of the branches can prove to be a useful tool for geography dissertation help.

Geomorphology studies the nature and processes involved with the formation of a particular land region and its history of formation. Iceland, which is a country in the North Atlantic Ocean, still experiences constant changes to its landform. The country frequently experiences volcanoes due to the country's position on the tectonic plates.
Hydrology studies the collection and movement of water on the surface, the lithosphere, and the atmosphere. Example: the study of lakes, rivers, and aquifers. Glaciers are involved in the study to an extent.
Glaciology the study of glaciers and ice sheets
Biogeography patterns and processes involved with the distribution of species across the Earth's surface and through geographical time
Climatology The study of the climate of a region. This branch focuses on the physical processes in the atmosphere and the hydrosphere.
Coastal Geography Studies the interaction between ocean and land. The study also considers the human geography of the coast. The lithosphere makes up the bed of the ocean and therefore, the study of the lithosphere is a significant part of the branch.
Oceanography Studies the ocean, seas, and its life forms. It studies marine ecosystems and marine life, movements of sediments and seafloor geology, and currents and waves.
Quaternary science Focuses on the Quaternary period (the current period in the Cenozoic era) which is the last 2.6 million years.
Environmental Geography This branch acts as a bridge between the two parts of geography, physical and human geography. It focuses on the interaction between humans and the natural world. The study of CO2 emissions and their effects on the environment and the life of human beings is a research topic within the realm of environmental geography. Climate change is a much-debated topic these days, because, despite being a study that observes the long-term changes of weather patterns in a region, recent years have witnessed significant changes (like the rise in global warming by 1 degree Celsius) in a much shorter period. The branch aims to analyze the changes and its repercussions on the lives of humans to develop a sustainable strategy for both the environment and humans.

The Five Features Of The Earth's Surface

A region or a terrain on the surface of the Earth is closely related to its atmospheric environment. Physical geography is classified into five main features based on the land and its environment: (1) plains, deserts and steppes, (2) mountains, (3) plateaus, (4) freshwater regions, and (5) saltwater regions. The field of physical geography is quite important for humans because it aids us with the understanding of several factors such as water currents of the ocean, the weather patterns of a particular region or the interlinking factors that govern the changes in the atmosphere. A key application of the field is in understanding human settlements, such as the settlements in Egypt. Humans chose to settle around the Nile River due to the benefits found near a water body since the rest of Egypt is arid and hot desert.

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Physical Geography Examples

An interesting branch of physical geography is phytogeography. The branch deals with the processes and principles responsible for the distributions of genealogical lineages across the surface of the Earth, especially those involving species that are closely related to each other. Phytogeography draws from various branches of genetics, geography and paleontology. For the analysis of lineage distributions, the study requires researchers to map the species on the Earth's surface concerning the time periods they are related to Dissertation Help is a useful resource if phytogeography is part of your doctoral studies.

Another example is an application of physical geography that directly translates into the protection of humans and other fauna and flora. Several countries are often affected by earthquakes such as Japan and the US. Geomorphology helps in understanding the movement of land masses. This branch of geography along with other engineering branches are responsible for the protection of humans and other resources present in a region. This is a significantly essential research area in countries where earthquakes are frequent. The research enables engineers to observe and measure the magnitude of earthquakes which consequently helps us with the preparation and protection of the inflicted society.

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