Skip to Main Content


Module 2 Required Resources


Your course requires a textbook that must be purchased from the NU Bookstore or any other resource of your choosing (for example, on Amazon). 


  • Chapter 3: Physical Geography: Landforms
  • Chapter 4: Physical Geography: Weather and Climate

Module 2 Learning Activities: Physical Geography

As we learned in Module 1, geography examines the relationship between humans and the natural (physical) environment they occupy and modify. Physical geographers look for answers to our questions in the processes that happen without humans and because of humans. Let’s start this module’s activity by learning more about some of these processes. Afterward, download and review the slide decks summarizing Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 to finish reinforcing your new knowledge.

The following videos focus on recognizing the characteristics of the environment and the processes that create, modify, and destroy those environments. Some of the core questions addressed here are:

  • What is Geo-ecosphere? 
  • What are the four main Earth systems? And What causes these four systems to interact?
  • What are some characteristics of the Earth’s rotation and its impact on our everyday lives?
  • What are Milankovich cycles and how do they influence Earth’s climate?
  • What are the spherical harmonic equations and how do they change with latitude?
  • What’s the Earth’s composition and what are the tectonic plates?

Watch this video that defines what physical geography is and some concepts it encompasses.

In order to continue in our understanding of physical geography, we need to zoom out and examine how the Earth as a whole moves.

The previous videos made references to tectonic plates, but what are they?

Now let’s take a glance at some of these geological landforms from space and explore one of the most spectacular satellite image collections of those landforms from around the globe in the USGS Earth As Art collection.

As the second part of our physical environment, it is time to investigate different types of weather and climate on Earth. As we learned in the first section of this module’s activity, Earth’s physical characteristics have an immense impact on the formation of various climates.

Most of us take the atmosphere for granted and rarely think about what it’s made of or how it moves or changes. The videos in this section help us understand what the atmosphere does and how it teaches us about temperature structure. Here are some questions answered in these videos:

  • What is insolation and how does it relate to the atmospheric energy budget?
  • Define diffuse and direct radiations? 
  • Explain convection and conduction in the atmosphere?
  • What are the main cloud types and how do they form? 
  • How do clouds teach us about energy and weather patterns flow around the globe?
  • What are some of the main causes of climate change in the past (paleoclimates)?

We’ve been looking down.  Now it’s time to look up and examine the nature of and effect on geography Earth’s atmosphere has.

We’ll continue our focus on the air and sky above us by discussing clouds, where they come from, and what they can have on us on the ground.

While we’re on the subject, take an in-depth look at 27 types of clouds identified by the National Weather Service. Please note that you could get a better look at each of the cloud types by clicking on their thumbnail. Enjoy!

Weather and climate can have significant and lasting effects on our planet.  Let’s take a look at Climate Change.