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Physical Geography Chapter 1: Fundamentals

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35 Questions

What type of location is described by mathematical coordinates on an Earth grid?

Absolute Location

What is the primary goal of the Spatial Science Perspective in physical geography?

To determine the differences and similarities between physical features

What is spatial distribution in the context of physical geography?

The extent of area or areas where a feature exists

What is spatial pattern in the context of physical geography?

The arrangement of multiple individuals of the same type

What is the term for the process whereby different phenomena are linked or interconnected and impact one another through Earth space?

Spatial Interaction

What is the main difference between absolute location and relative location?

One is measured using mathematical coordinates, the other is relative to other objects

What can be a consequence of excessive rainfall in Minnesota and Wisconsin?

Flooding along the Mississippi River in Missouri

What is the Environmental Science Perspective primarily concerned with?

The natural part of the environment

What is the study of interactions between organisms and their environment called?


What is an ecosystem?

A dynamic system of interdependent relationships between organisms and their environment

What is a characteristic of ecosystems?

They are dynamic and always changing

What is considered in physical geography, in addition to natural environmental relationships?

Environmental relationships involving humans and human activities

What happens in a system when a positive feedback reaction occurs?

The initial change is reinforced and leads to imbalance.

What is the primary function of negative feedback in a system?

To maintain a tendency towards balance.

What is the term for a set of feedback operations that can be repeated as a cycle?

Feedback loops.

What type of system is Earth considered to be?

Open system.

What is the term for the point at which a system undergoes a significant change?

Threshold condition.

What is the primary purpose of studying systems in physical geography?

To understand the role of geography as an environmental science.

What is the primary distinction between physical and human geography?

One examines the physical environment, while the other examines human populations.

Why is geography considered a spatial discipline?

Because it involves the study of locations and their spatial relationships.

What is a geographic region?

A area with unique physical or human characteristics.

How do modern technologies contribute to physical geography?

They provide new tools for data collection and analysis.

What are the three major perspectives of physical geography?

Physical science, spatial science, and environmental science.

Why is it important to consider Earth as a system?

Because it is an interconnected system with many components.

What is the first step in studying a system?

Clearly define the system and delineate the system boundaries.

What type of system is the Earth considered in terms of energy?

Open system

What is the purpose of a systems model?

To understand the interactions between components within a system

What is an example of negative feedback?

An increase in deer population depletes the animals' food supplies, which leads to a decrease in population

What type of system is the Earth considered in terms of matter?

Closed system

What happens in a system when there is negative feedback?

The system reaches a state of dynamic equilibrium

What is the term for the solid part of the Earth system?


Which component of the Earth system includes all living things?


What is the term for the Earth's waters?


What term describes the blanket of air that surrounds the Earth?


What is the term for the Earth system that includes all solid, liquid, and gaseous components?


Study Notes

The Earth's Systems

  • The Earth's systems consist of the atmosphere (a blanket of air), lithosphere (solid rock part), biosphere (living things), and hydrosphere (waters of Earth).

Physical Geography

  • Physical geography is a spatial discipline that studies the Earth's physical features, processes, and relationships between them.
  • It involves the study of the Earth's systems and their interactions.
  • Objectives of physical geography include describing the difference between physical and human geography, explaining why geography is a spatial discipline, and discussing the concept of a geographic region.

Major Perspectives in Physical Geography

  • The three major perspectives are:
    • Physical Science Perspective: studies the Earth's physical features and processes.
    • Spatial Science Perspective: examines the spatial distribution and patterns of physical features, and how they interact with each other.
    • Environmental Science Perspective: focuses on the natural environment, including weather, climate, landforms, rocks, soil, water, plants, and animals.

Spatial Science Perspective

  • Characteristics of places: determines what physical features give a particular place its distinctive appearance.
  • Spatial distribution: the extent of an area or areas where a feature exists.
  • Spatial pattern: how multiple individuals of the same type are arranged over the Earth's surface.
  • Spatial interaction: the process whereby different phenomena are linked or interconnected and impact each other through Earth space.
  • Change over space and time: the Earth's features and landscapes change continually.

Environmental Science Perspective

  • The environment is everything that surrounds us, including physical, social, and cultural aspects that affect our growth, health, and way of life.
  • Ecosystems: communities of organisms functioning together through interdependent relationships with the environment.
  • Ecosystems are dynamic, with their parts always changing.

Working with Models and Earth Systems

  • Systems: boundaries that define the system and its component parts.
  • Open systems: allow energy and materials to freely cross its boundaries.
  • Closed systems: no substantial amount of materials can cross its boundaries.
  • Earth is an open system for energy but virtually closed in terms of matter.
  • Feedback: an adjustment in response to change, which can be negative (counteracts the initial change) or positive (reinforces the initial change).
  • Feedback loops: a set of feedback operations that can be repeated as a cycle.

Test your understanding of the basics of physical geography, including the difference between physical and human geography, spatial disciplines, and geographic regions. Review key concepts and objectives from Chapter 1 of your Physical Geography course.

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