cod. 00459

Academic year 2019/20
1° year of course - First semester
- Giovanni LEONELLI
Academic discipline
Geografia fisica e geomorfologia (GEO/04)
Ambito geomorfologico-geologico applicativo
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit


Learning objectives

The Physical Geography module (Cod. 00459) aims to provide students with cognitive tools for understanding and interpreting the physical-climatic environmental phenomena affecting the Eearth's surface. The module is part of the course in Physical Geography, Cartography and GIS [1005854] which is structured in two modules and includes in the second semester lectures of the GIS Cartography module (code 1005853).

The students will learn the basic elements for understanding the phenomena that regulate the superficial physical terrestrial environment and its interactions with atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere.



Course unit content

Elements of astronomical geography. Structure of the solar system, motions of the planet Earth, solar forcing and energy balance, measures of time and seasons.
Meteorological phenomena and analogue and digital instruments for measuring.
Winds, meteorological systems. Tides, sea currents.
Elements of global biogeography, the interactions between the physical and biological environment.
Climates, their distribution, classification and climatic changes

Full programme

Elements of astronomical geography: the solar system, planets, characteristics, motions, distances and dimensions.
Planet Earth’s motions, revolution and rotation, inclination of the axis, height and declination of the sun, the latitude. Solar forcing, energy balance, the seasons.
Duration of day and night, time measurements and longitude.
Earth's magnetic field, cosmic particles and aurora borealis.
ATMOSPHERE: Structure and chemical composition of the atmosphere, meteorological phenomena. Measuring instruments for temperature, precipitation, pressure, humidity, wind speed, insolation. Atmospheric pressure, isobars, convective cells, winds, meteorological systems.
TERRESTRIAL CRUST and LITHOSPHERE: plaques, distribution of the continents in the climate system.
HYDROSPHERE: seas and oceans, tides and lunar motions, mascaret, sea currents, Ekman spiral, surface and underground waters, glaciers, ice caps and ice floes.
BIOSPHERE: outline of global biogeography, the interactions between the physical and biological environment, spontaneous vegetation as a climate indicator, types of forests, grassland, savannah, steppe, desert, tundra.
The climates, their latitudinal and altitudinal distribution, classification according to W. Köppen and to A.N. Strahler, natural variability and climate change.


Strahler A. “Fondamenti di Geografia Fisica”, Zanichelli 2015
Strahler A.N. “Geografia Fisica”, Piccin 1984
Slide del corso e articoli scientifici forniti dal docente.

Teaching methods


Assessment methods and criteria

first module – Physical Geography: interview.

The 3 exams related to the two modules of the course in Physical Geography, Cartography and GIS [1005854] must be passed in sequence:
first module - Physical Geography (an interview, 1 vote)
second module - Cartography (a written exam, 1 vote) and finally GIS (a written exam, 1 vote).

The final mark for the exam in Physical Geography, Cartography and GIS [1005854] is given by the average of the 3 marks obtained in the two modules: Physical Geography (1 mark) - Cartography and GIS (1 + 1 marks). The final mark is recorded after passing the GIS exam.

Other information

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