This course is an introduction to the basic processes that influence the characteristics and
spatial relationships of climate, water cycle and vegetation. Students examine the interactions
of solar energy with the Earth’s atmosphere and surface, and how atmospheric circulation,
precipitation, and weather systems are generated. The cycling of water and other Earth resources
within the living zone - the biosphere - are discussed, while students focus 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. Students are then asked to observe
and to interpret aspects of their local environment by applying what they have learned.
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:
- Describe how incoming solar radiation interacts with the earth's atmosphere and surface.
- Understand how the global atmospheric circulation, wind systems, and ocean currents are
- Explain the important role of water in the atmosphere and the processes that lead to
condensation, cloud formation, and precipitation.
- Describe the weather and climates associated with different air masses and storm systems, and
relate them to daily weather conditions in your home area.
- Explain why weather and climate vary from region to region in British Columbia.
- Discuss how atmospheric precipitation is transformed into surface water (rivers and lakes),
soil moisture, and groundwater.
- Explain how the characteristics and distribution of the vegetation cover of the earth vary in
response to various environmental factors.
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
Required text and materials
Students will receive the following:
- Arbogast, A. F., Ford, L., & Dagesse, D. (2017) Discovering physical geography 1e
CDN Edition Loose-Leaf Wiley.
Type: Looseleaf Textbook ISBN: 978-1-119-44346-9.
- Ministry of Forests Research Branch, Province of British Columbia. Biogeoclimatic Zones of
British Columbia. Ministry of Forests Research Branch, Province of British Columbia, 1999.
Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.
To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on
the overall course and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.
|Assignment 1: Physical Geography Report*
|Assignment 2: Unit 1
|Assignment 3: Units 2, 3 and 4
|Assignment 4: Units 5 and 6
|Assignment 5: Units 7 and 8
|Final Exam (mandatory)
Open Learning Faculty Member
An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of your course.