Welcome to

Geography/IES 120

Global Physical Environments

This course provides an introduction to the global distribution and processes of climate, weather, ecosystems, landforms, and soils, emphasizing interrelationships.


Instructor for First Half of Course: Professor Waltraud Brinkmann
Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays: 2:30-3:30 pm, Rm 213 Science Hall, 262-6316

Instructor for Second Half of Course: Professor Vance Holliday
Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays: 11:00-12:00 am, Rm 455 Science Hall, 262-6300

T.A. for Entire Semester: Russel Graves
Office Hours: to be announced in class, Rm 401 Science Hall, 262-8920


Tuesdays & Thursdays: Lecture 1=11:00-12:15, Lecture 2=1:00-2:15
Room 180 Science Hall

3 credits in physical science


None; but students are expected to know the locations of the 50 states, all continents, and all oceans.


Required Text
Examinations and Grading
Example Test Questions
Honors Credits
Survival Tips
Information for Students with Disabilities
Information Regarding Religious Observances
Information Regarding Accademic Misconduct


We wish to fully include persons with disabilities in this course. Please let the Instructors and the T.A. know--within the first three weeks of class--if you need any special accommodations in the curriculum, instructions, or assessments of this course to enable you to fully participate. We will try to maintain the confidentiality of the information you share with us.

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We wish to accommodate students' sincerely held religious beliefs. Please let the Instructors or the T.A. know--within the first three weeks of class--if the timing of any of the lectures or examinations for this course conflict with commonly recognized religious holidays.

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Examples of academic misconduct include, but are not limited to: cheating on an examination; stealing examinations or course materials; submitting an assignment that is the work of another person without appropriately identifying the source. Penalties range from reprimands, to a lower or failing grade, to expulsion from the University. For a full text see: Academic Misconduct--Rules and Procedures, available from the Dean of Students Office.

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TEXTBOOK (required)

"Physical Geography, 5th edition" by T.L. McKnight, Prentice Hall

Web Site for this books is: McKnight Text

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This course may be taken for honors credits. If you register for honors credits, please contact the T.A. You will be expected to complete the Honors Assignment.

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Three equally weighted 75-minute examinations will be given at roughly 5-week intervals. Each exam will stress the material covered since the previous exam:

  1. In class: Thursday, February 20
  2. In class: Tuesday, April 8
  3. Final: Sunday, May 11, 7:25 pm


Each exam will consist of 50 questions, worth 1 point each. The questions will be in the form of multiple choice and matching; some of the multiple choice questions will refer to diagrams.

Make-ups for the first two exams will be given only for medical reasons, and only if you contact the T.A. or instructor within 24 hours of the scheduled exam time. The final exam is NOT a comprehensive exam, but, in accordance with university regulations, it is given during finals week. Please note that the final exam MUST be taken at its scheduled time, so do not plan on leaving town until after May 11. A make-up for the final exam will be given only if you have two exams scheduled for the same time or three exams in a 24-hour period.

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Electromagnetic radiation having a wavelength of between .9 and 1.2 microns is referred to as:

a. visible light.
b. ultraviolet radiation.
c. infrared radiation.
d. X-rays.

Fog begins to form when:

a. the relative humidity of the air near the ground is greater than 50 percent.
b. the dew point of the air near the ground is less than 20 degrees celsius.
c. the vapor pressure of the air near the ground is greater than 20 mb.
d. none of the above.

The geostrophic wind is:

a. an upper-air wind that is the result of a balance between the pressure gradient force and friction.
b. an upper-air wind that blows perpendicular to the isobars.
c. a surface wind that blows at an angle across the isobars, from high to low pressure..
d. none of the above.

In Bolivia, Peru, the coldest month of the year is:

a. January.
b. April.
c. July.
d. October.

Which of the following statements concerning moisture in the atmosphere is correct:

a. Water freezes spontaneously when the temperature drops to below freezing.
b. Ice at a temperature of below -40 degrees Celsius is called 'supercooled water'.
c. There is an abundance of freezing nuclei in the atmosphere.
d. None of the above is correct.

The source of most of the precipitation in a Cs-type of climate is:

a. mid-latitude cyclones and associated fronts.
b. intertropical convergence zone and the trade winds.
c. thunderstorms forming within polar easterlies.
d. tropical cyclones.

Following the passage of a cold front across Madison, you would expect:

a. the temperature to fall and the pressure to rise.
b. the pressure to fall and the wind to blow from the east.
c. cloud cover and rainfall to increase.
d. none of the above.

Which of the following might be a source region of cP airmasses:

a. North Atlantic.
b. northern Canada.
c. Sahara Desert.
d. Gulf of Mexico.

Igneous rock classification is based on what properties?

a. color and chemical composition.
b. cooling history and chemical composition.
c. texture and cooling history.
d. cooling history and size of mineral grains.
e. color and mineral content.

Island arcs:

a. are found along spreading centers.
b. form along the margins of rifts.
c. are found along ocean plate/ocean plate subduction zones.
d. are common in the western Atlantic.
e. are common in the eastern Pacific.

The Himalayas and Alps are the result of:

a. continent plate/continent plate collision.
b. ocean plate/continent plate collision.
c. ocean plate/ocean plate collision.
d. subduction.
e. a spreading center.

Karst landscapes result from:

a. chemical weathering of sandstone.
b. chemical weathering of granite.
c. physical weathering of limestone
d. chemical weathering of limestone.
e. physical weathering of shale.

The Basin and Range region of the western United States is:

a. the result of Hot Spot activity.
b. due to formation of anticlines and synclines.
c. due to formation of Horsts and Grabens
d. a series of hogbacks and cuestas.
e. a good example of a Karst landscape.

Which of the following glacial landforms would you not expect to find in an area that has undergone alpine glaciation?

a. cirques.
b. moraines.
c. kames.
d. U-shaped valleys.
e. all of the above would be expected.

During the Quaternary, sea level:

a. rose as the glaciers advanced.
b. lowered as the glaciers advanced.
c. had no relationship to glacial events.
d. rose steadily to its present position.
e. none of the above.

A terrace is:

a. where a stream stores flood waters.
b. where gravel is deposited in a meandering stream.
c. where erosion occurs in a meandering stream.
d. an abandoned floodplain (isolated by erosion).
e. formed along mountain fronts in arid regions.

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Jan 21Introduction, Geographc GridChapter 1
Jan 23Earth-Sun Relationships, the SeasonsChapter 1
Jan 28Heating & Cooling of the AtmosphereChapter 4
Jan 30Spatial & Seasonal VariationsChapter 4
Feb 4Atmospheric MoistureChapter 6
Feb 6Atmospheric MoistureChapter 6
Feb 11Atmospheric Pressure & WindChapter 5
Feb 13General Circulation of the AtmosphereChapter 5
Feb 18Air Masses, Middle Latitude WeatherChapter 7
Feb 20EXAM 1
Feb 25Middle Latitude WeatherChapter 7
Feb 27Weather HazardsChapter 7
Mar 4Climate ClassificationChapter 8
Mar 6Climate TypesChapter 8
Mar 11Climate Changepp.84-85, 571-572
Mar 13Earth MaterialsChapter 13
Mar 18Plate Tectonicspp. 387-397
Mar 20Plate Tectonicspp. 387-397
Apr 1Rock Structure & Landformspp. 410-421
Apr 3Volcanoespp. 398-408
Apr 8EXAM 2
Apr 10StreamsChapter 16
Apr 15Fluvial LandformsChapter 16
Apr 17GlaciersChapter 20
Apr 22Glacial LandformsChapter 20
Apr 24Glacial LandformsChapter 20
Apr 29Glacial HistoryCh 20 & pp. 495-97
May 1WeatheringCh 15 & pp. 531-36
May 6Soil FormationChapter 12
May 8Soil GeographyChapter 12
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