cod. 00455

Academic year 2020/21
1° year of course - First semester
CHELLI Alessandro
Academic discipline
Geografia fisica e geomorfologia (GEO/04)
Attività formative affini o integrative
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course Geography has among its specific objectives those of providing a solid basic physical geographic preparation and the knowledge and operational tools useful for the access to master's degrees, in particular those of Ecology and Conservation of Nature and of Science and Technology for the Environment and Resources.
The objectives are achieved through the acquisition of:
- ability to interpret the phenomena concerning the atmosphere and the hydrosphere at different spatial-temporal investigation scales;
- basic knowledge concerning the Earth within the solar system;
- basic knowledge regarding the main morphogenetic domains of the Alpine and Apennine areas;
- ability to use and read topographic maps at different scales.



Course unit content

The shape of the Earth. Rotation and revolution of the Earth. Tilt of Earth axis. The measure of the time: definitions of day and year. The atmosphere. The solar radiation. The temperature of the atmosphere. The pressure of the atmosphere. The winds. The humidity of the atmosphere and the precipitation. The air masses. Oceans and oceanic currents. The climates. Cartography. Overview on geomorphology: landforms and processes due to gravity, running waters and glaciers.

Full programme

The shape of the Earth; the evidence of terrestrial sphericity; the Earth as an ellipsoid of revolution; the Earth as a geoid; the maximum circles and the minor circles.
Earth's rotation; angular and linear speed; the experiences of Guglielmini and Foucault
The Earth’s revolution; characteristics of the Earth’s orbit; first and second law of Kepler.
The tilt of the Earth's axis; solstices and equinoxes; the relation between day and night; height and declination of the sun; assessment of the height of the sun at midday at various latitudes; the apparent path of the sun at various latitudes; assessment of the inclination of the apparent orbit on the horizon plane; duration of the day and night at the poles; determination of sunrise and sunset times at various latitudes and at various times of the year; sunrise-sunset diagrams; the dusk.
The apparent solar day; average solar day; sidereal day; the equation of time; analemma; true horizon and apparent horizon; exact hours of sunrise and sunset. The sidereal year and the tropic year. The precession of the earth's axis. The calendar year. Local time and standard time; time zones; the line of date change.
Structure and characteristics of the atmosphere; chemical composition, pressure, temperature; main chemical and physical processes. The magnetosphere; the northern lights.
Solar radiation; solar spectrum; solar constant; changes in insolation; the radiation balance.
The measurement of the air temperature; the differences in behavior between the lands and the seas; the annual cycle of the air temperature; the maps of air temperature; the distribution of temperatures on the Earth; the daily temperature cycle.
Atmospheric pressure; isobaric surfaces, isobars, isobaric gradient; convection cells.
The winds; action of the Coriolis force; the geostrophic wind; cyclones and anticyclones; the effect of friction on wind direction; wind measurement; anemoscopes, anemometers, anemographs; the measurement of the winds at height; the wind rose; the distribution of winds on the Earth's surface; the monsoons; the circulation at height and the jet streams.
Atmospheric humidity and precipitation; the physical states of water; the measurement of humidity; the clouds; the types of precipitation; the measurement of precipitation; the causes of precipitation; global energy and water budgets.
Air masses, fronts and cyclonic perturbations; the types of air masses; cold and warm fronts; frontal cyclones; tropical and equatorial meteorological perturbations; tropical cyclones; the tornados.
The seas and oceans: composition, salinity, dissolved gas, temperature, sea ice. The movements of the sea: the waves, the genesis of the waves and their dynamics; ocean currents, surface currents, deep currents. Tides: mechanism, types and width of the tides, tidal currents. Overview on the sea level changes.
Climates; classification systems; the classification system of W. Köppen; the explanatory-descriptive system of A.N. Strahler.
Cartography: sphere, ellipsoid, geoid; the datum; characteristics and scale of the topographic maps; the classification of the maps; the geographic network; cartographic projections; the Map of Italy; the geographical coordinates; the kilometric network; the GPS; the polar coordinates; magnetic declination and convergence; the altimetric representation of the land. The Regional Technical Maps. the stream network and the divide; the topographic profile. Examples of reading topographic maps: conventional signs; terrain shapes highlighted by contour lines.


P.R. FEDERICI Il Pianeta Terra. Geografia Fisica,UTET Università (2017).
S. PEREGO Cartografia, Santa Croce, Parma (2004).
A.N. STRAHLER:"Geografia Fisica", PICCIN, Padova (1984).

Teaching methods

The course will be divided into basic lectures aimed at defining a general theoretical framework and in lectures, always frontal, of an applicative nature focused on the presentation and discussion of case studies. In addition, the course will be integrated with a certain number of hours of exercises on reading topographic maps. Part of the exercises will be individual and practical in order to allow the student to independently accomplish a specific analytical procedure outlined in theory during the lessons. In particular, the student will be asked to draw the watershed line that delimits a river basin, topographic profiles and longitudinal profiles of watercourses.

Assessment methods and criteria

The acquisition of knowledge is verified through an oral exam integrated by the reading of a topographic map.
The oral exam is based on 3 questions from tot. 27/30 points at most, the topographic map is worth a maximum of 6/30 points. Praise is gained with a score equal to 33.

Other information