SO262 Physical Geography

The physical environment influences natural resources, human culture, national security, and military operations. This course examines the basic scientific principles of physical geography, and how location on earth influences climate, landforms, soils, and natural vegetation.  We will study the processes at work, the features created, and their spatial distributions.  We will use satellite imagery and geographical information systems to look at case studies around the world and examine the wide range of natural environments. 

Fall 2018 Policy Statement  Syllabus  Objectives   Project Power Point (USNA only)      
Fall 2013 Syllabus    Quizzes Exam 1 Exam 2
Fall 2012 Syllabus     Quizzes Exam 1 Exam 2
Spring 2011 Syllabus     Quizzes Exam 1 Exam 2
Fall 2009 Syllabus   Quizzes Exam 1 Exam 2
Spring 2008 Syllabus        Quizzes Exam 1 Exam 2
Spring 2007 Syllabus       Quizzes Exam 1 Exam 2
Fall 2006 Syllabus   Quizzes Exam 1 Exam 2

Day and night on earth:

March 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami

This course was taught as SO286 (experimental) in fall 2006 and spring 2007.  It was first taught as SO262 in the fall of 2007.  This page contains material from semesters when Professor Guth taught the course; it has been taught almost every semester.

Satellite composite image of world.  The latitudinal distribution of climate and land cover clearly shows at this scale, with a belt of brown colored deserts across the Sahara, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and on through Mongolia.  A smaller belt occurs in the southern hemisphere, and also in the western part of the Americas.  The dark green tropical rain forest show up in Brazil, equatorial Africa, and Indonesia. 


From NASA 1 km resolution imagery of the world, from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS.

Classification of the earth surface in 23 categories.  Note that the categories generally follow latitude.  You can also note the effect of mountains, such as the Himalayas.


From Global Land Cover 2000, a 1 km level classification of the earth's surface.

  Global Climate
World topography.  Note the highest mountains in the Himalayas and Andes. After the dominant trends with latitude, most features of the physical world also reflect the control of altitude.


From MEASURED AND ESTIMATED SEAFLOOR TOPOGRAPHY ( Smith, W. H. F., and D. T. Sandwell, 1977, Global seafloor topography from satellite altimetry and ship depth soundings, Science, v. 277, p. 1957-1962.)


NASA Visible Earth

NASA Earth Observatory

Faculty teaching SO262:

Last revision 7/5/2018