38:170 Intro Physical Geography

Instructors:  Lecture, Dr. Dion J. Wiseman – Laboratory, Ms. Wenonah van Heyst
Office: Brodie Room 4-07
Office Hrs: Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 11 – 12 PM
Phone: 727-9774
Email: wiseman@brandonu.ca

Required Text:

Christopherson, et al. (2016) Geosystems, 4th Canadian ed.: Pearson

Lab Manual:

The laboratory manual for this course will be available to pick up at your first regularly scheduled lab period next week. The printing fee for the lab manual was included in the course registration fee.

Course Description

Physical Geography is the study of the physical components and processes operating within Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. This course will introduce basic geographic concepts and examine a variety of these systems in a spatial context. Topics discussed include coordinate systems, maps, and map projections; remote sensing, GIS, and GPS  technology; solar energy and radiation balances; weather and climate; volcanism, earthquakes, and plate tectonics; weathering and mass movements; fluvial, eolian, coastal, and glacial landforms and processes; soils; ecosystems; and biomes.

Course Outline

Topic  Description Chapter(s)
1 Basic Geographic Concepts, Location, Coordinate Systems, and Maps 1
2 Earth Sun Relations, Solar Energy, and Seasons 2
3 The Atmosphere and Energy Balances 3 & 4
4 Global Temperature, Atmospheric Circulation, and Climate Systems 5, 6 & 10
Test I Date TBD
5 Water in the Atmosphere, Earth’s Surface, and Subsurface 7 & 9
6 Earth’s Internal Structure and Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, and Volcanism 12 & 13
Test II Date TBD
7 Weathering and Mass Movements 14
8 Fluvial Processes and Landforms  15
9 Glacial Processes and Landforms 17
10 Soil Genesis and Classification 18
Final Date TBD

Grading Scheme

Term Test I 20% > 90% A+ 70 – 72% B-
Term Test II 20% 85 – 89% A 67 – 69% C+
Lab Assignments 20% 80 – 84% A- 63 – 66% C
Lab Quizzes 20% 77 – 79% B+ 60 – 62% C-
Final Exam 20% 73 – 76% B 50 – 59% D
*Book Review 5% *Why Geography Matters 2% < 50% F

* Optional Extra Credit Assignments: A book review OR contribution to “Why Geography Matters” may be submitted at any time before the last day of class for extra credit.

1) Book Review: Any book with a strong geographic component that you have not read before is acceptable.  Some recommendations include Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond; Floods, Famines, and Emperors by Brian Fagan; A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold; Collapse by Jared Diamond; The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester; The Eternal Frontier by Tim Flannery; Krakatoa by Simon Winchester; Epic Wanderer by D’Arcy Jenish; Where is Here? by Alan Morantz; and A Geography of Blood by Candace Savage. These would all be considered lite reading and are not boring text books. If you talk to me and I recommend a book that you absolutely end up hating I’ll buy it back from you. If you want to choose your own book, check with me first so that I can approve it.  The book review should be two pages maximum (dbl. sp.), specifically noting the significance of geography to the main thesis of the book. Submit a hard copy of this to me along with your copy of the book and, based on how well you have explained the significance of geography to the central theme of the book, I will give you up to 5% bonus marks toward your final grade in the course.

2) Why Geography Matters: Because every THING happens or exists somewhere we can study or consider how its unique geographic occurrence affects it or other phenomena, including us, or how it differs from similar THINGS elsewhere. Hopefully, this and other geography courses you take at university will change your mind about what geography is, how it is relevant to you and society in general, and Why Geography Matters. As we work through the course hopefully we will discuss a topic that hits home for you and you make this connection, or maybe you will read or hear about something in the news that makes you think about how and why geography matters. Your assignment is to write a short essay (two pages maximum, dbl. sp.), explaining what it is and why and/or how it is a good example of Why Geography Matters.  I will review it and if it warrants submission I will add it to the “Geography Matters” web page and give you up to 2% bonus marks toward you final grade in the course.

Tentative Laboratory Schedule

Date Lab Description Chapter(s)
Sept 6/7 No Labs This Week
Sep 13/14 1 Geographic Coordinate Systems , Time Zones, Topographic Maps, UTM Ch. 1, p. 16-26
Sep 20/21 2 Topographic Maps: Compass Directions, Scale, Distance and Area Calculations, CLSS  Ch. 1, p. 26-29,    Appendix A
Sep 27/28 3 GPS And Field Mapping (Outdoors, Meet in Lab)
Oct 4/5  4 Isolines and Vertical Profiles  Appendix A
Oct 11/12 No Labs This Week
Oct 18/19 5 Earth-Sun Relationships & Lab Quiz 1  Ch. 2, p. 41, 47-59
Oct 25/26 6 Water Balance (Term Test 1 on Monday, October 23) Ch 9, p. 237-246, 259
Figs 10.7, 10.29, Appendix C
Nov 1/2 Rating and Flood Frequency Curves; Intro Lab 10 – Google Earth Field Trip Ch. 14, p. 420-422, 443-449
Nov 8/9  7 No Labs This Week
Nov 15/16 Description of Soil Properties, Climographs (Term Test 2 on Friday, November 17)  Ch. 18, p. 556-562
Nov 22/23 8 Lab Quiz 2 – No Lab
Nov 29/30 9 Glacial Landforms  Ch. 17, p. 516-530
Dec 6 10 Lab 10 Due

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