The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following: lecture, labs, field work, analysis and interpretation of surface weather charts and satellite images, slides, videos, individual and/or team projects and small group discussions.
- Scientific method
- Systems theory and its application to planet Earth
- Sun / Earth geometry
- Solar Energy and Radiation Laws
- First Law of Thermodynamics
- Electromagnetic radiation
- Wien’s Displacement Law, Stephan-Boltzmann Law and the Inverse Square Law
- Variation in the receipt of solar radiation
- The Earth's Atmosphere
- Evolution of the modern atmosphere
- Classification of the atmosphere
- Anthropogenic atmospheric pollutants and their effects
- Energy Concepts, Energy Balance
- Second Law of Thermodynamics
- Energy transfer, transmission and absorption
- Heat energy concepts
- Radiation and energy balances
- Temperature Variation
- Influences on temperature
- Temperature patterns
- Measurement of temperature
- Pressure and Atmospheric Circulation
- Pressure and its variation, distribution and measurement
- Gas Law
- Forces influencing the direction and speed of upper level and surface winds
- Patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation
- Macro- and meso-scale winds
- Moisture in the Atmosphere
- Indices of water vapour content
- Methods and forms of condensation
- Mechanisms and forms of precipitation
- Indices of water vapour content
- Adiabatic Processes and Stability
- Diabatic and adiabatic processes
- Lapse rates
- Concept and types of stability
- Air Masses, Fronts, Mid-latitude Cyclones
- Air mass formation, classification and modification
- Front types, formation and characteristics
- Development, evolution and movement of mid-latitude cyclones
- Severe Weather
- Characteristics and life-cycles of air mass and severe thunderstorms
- Tornado formation, characteristics and dimensions
- Hurricane development, characteristics, structure, forecasts and damage
- Global Climates
- Köppen and Thornthwaite climate classification schemes
- Patterns and characteristics of A, B, C, D, E and H climates
- Ecological biogeography and its relationship to climatic patterns
- Abiotic and biotic influences on primary productivity in various ecosystems
- Trophic relationships in ecosystems
- Stages of general ecological succession in ecosystems
- Climate Change
- Evidence for past climate variation
- Urban heat island
- Atmospheric greenhouse effect and critical analyses of global warming predictions
- Local actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:
- Describe and use the frameworks of science applicable to 1st-year physical geography.
- Think critically and examine climatological, meteorological and biogeographical issues in a scientific context at local, regional and global scales.
- Describe and explain the processes that occur within earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere systems, and identify and describe interactions among these systems.
- Communicate effectively using the language, graphical presentation methods and quantitative methods employed in physical geography.
- Connect theoretical applications to “real-world” observations and measurements.
The evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria during the first week of classes.
Evaluation will include some of the following:
- Laboratory assignments with a combined value of up to 50%.
- Multiple choice and short answer exams with a combined value of up to 50%.
- Field work with a value of up to 20%.
- A term project with a value of up to 25%.
An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:
|Two Laboratory Exams||30%|
Note: This course received a standing variance from Education Council in November 1999 to allow up to a 15% open book lab exam in the penultimate week of the semester. This is not a final exam; it is an assessment of student learning of lab work performed in the second half of the semester.
Texts will be updated periodically. Typical examples are:
- Christopherson, R. W. and M.L. Byrne (2006). Geosystems: An Introduction to Physical Geography (Canadian ed.). Toronto: Prentice Hall.