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This course provides an opportunity for understanding part of the complex physical and biological environment in which human beings live. It introduces basic processes that influence the characteristics and spatial relationships of climate, water cycle and vegetation. The first part of the course examines the interactions of solar energy with the Earth's atmosphere and surface, and how atmospheric circulation, precipitation, and weather systems are generated. The second part of the course covers the cycling of water and other Earth resources within the living zone - the biosphere. It focuses on how these cycles, together with the flows of energy, influence the nature and distribution of ecosystems and vegetation. Throughout the course, students look at patterns of human activity that are in response to and have an effect upon environmental processes, and are asked to observe and interpret aspects of their local environment in light of what they have learned.
Note: This course includes a lab component with a value of 1 credit (of the total 4 credits).
Introduction to Physical Geography focuses on the characteristics and spatial relationships of climate, the water cycle, and ecosystems. Specifically, by the time you have finished this course, you should be able to:
Introduction to Physical Geography comprises eight units of study, five graded assignments, and a final exam. A list of the topics covered in the units is provided here:
Unit 1: Earth's Environmental Systems
Unit 2: Radiation Balance and the Thermal Environment
Unit 3: Atmospheric Circulation
Unit 4: Moisture, Air Masses, and Storms
Unit 5: Global and Regional Climates
Unit 6: Water at the Earth's Surface
Unit 7: Energy and Matter in the Biosphere
Unit 8: Biogeographic Processes
Students will receive all course materials including the textbook in their course package.
Computer with Internet is required for this course.
An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through Blackboard's "Mail" tool or by phone. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.
In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final examination and 50% overall. The following chart shows how the final grade is determined for this course.
*Mandatory Course Component
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