What does physical geography study?

Geography literally translated from ancient Greek means "description of the Earth." That is, initially, in ancient times, it was something like travel notes: travelers, visiting new lands and seas, described what they saw, along the way drawing up "earthly drawings" - maps. Gradually, with the accumulation of knowledge about the planet, the amount of information becomes too large to "fit" in one science. With the development of society, economic geography appears, and "classical" geography, which is now commonly called physical, is no longer one science, but a whole complex of disciplines that study the structure of the upper part of the lithosphere, hydrosphere and lower part of the atmosphere, as well as the human influence on their formation. (anthropogenic impact). So what is studying physical geography today?

What does physical geography include

Today this science consists of the following disciplines:

  • oceanology;
  • land hydrology;
  • glaciology;
  • climatology;
  • geocryology;
  • geomorphology;
  • soil geography;
  • paleogeography;
  • biogeography.

Each of the listed disciplines has its own “sector of responsibility”, and some of them relate not only to geography, but also to related sciences. For example, biogeography studies the patterns of distribution of living organisms, therefore it occupies a borderline position between physical geography and biology. And the sphere of interest of geomorphology is relief: its appearance, varieties, origin and evolution. Therefore, this section of physical geography approaches geology. Soil geography has much in common with soil science.

The most exotic sections of physical geography

Perhaps the most unusual discipline of physical geography is paleogeography. She studies the dynamics of the physical and geographical situation in the geological past of our planet. This science is also borderline: it stands between geography and historical geology. The methodology of paleogeography is, first of all, the study of rocks and the organic sediments they contain.

Academician Vladimir Afanasyevich Obruchev

Geocryology is at the intersection of geography and cryology and studies permafrost. For our country, this science is very relevant, because more than half of the territory of Russia (according to various estimates - from 60 to 65 percent) is located in this zone. Geocryology in Russia was developed by such well-known and extraordinary scientists as Academicians V. A. Obruchev and V. I. Vernadsky. The first is also known as a talented science fiction writer ("Plutonium", "Sannikov's Land" - filmed), and the second, before the October Revolution, was a member of the State Duma from the Cadet party, later - the winner of the Stalin Prize of the first degree.

And, finally, the most romantic science that belongs to physical geography is oceanology. She studies the global and time-spanning interaction of the ocean on the one hand and land and atmosphere on the other. In turn, it includes several sections describing and exploring the geology, biology and composition of the World Ocean. And commercial oceanology studies the distribution and dynamics of biological resources in order to use them as efficiently as possible.