Book PrefaceGeosystems Core
Physical Geography Surrounds Us
The main purpose of Ctosysrems Core is to introduce physical geography- a geospatial science that integrates a range of disciplines concerned with Eanh’s physical and living systems, including geology, meteorology, biology. and ecology, among others. It is intended for use in college-level introduaory courses in physical geography, Earth science. and environmental science.
Ceosystems Core teaches a holistic view of Eanh’s environme.nL Central tO this approach is human-environment interaction. Dur·ing the last two centuries, our expanding human population becarne a major fo rce in shaping Earth’s environmenL Humans plant crops, plough soils, domestimte animals, clear fores ts, build settlements, extraa precious metals, and burn fossil fuels. Human agency modifies the distribut ion of plant and animal species. We impound and divert most of the world’s major rivers, and are altering the chemistry of the oceans. Moreover, in tl>e last 20 years, mounting evidence from every scientific field supports tiH! case for humaninduced climate change.
As an academic discipline. the roots of geography stretch back to antiquity, yet physical geography is essential to understanding current environmental issues. For example. by 320 B.C. E .• the Creek philosopher and scientist Aristotle recognized how vegetation and climate changed with elevation in the Pindos Mountains of Greece. Today, contemporary geography thrives on the cutting edge of knowledge. serving as the bridge between Eanh and natural sciences. New geospatial teclmologies such as CPS, CIS, and Remote Sensing allow humans to view, record, and analyze the world anew.
Geographers analy.te environmental problems from pole to pole. and from the ocean Ooor to Eanh’s highest summits. They use new technologies to analy.te add rain deposition in mountain lakes. trace dust stOmt’l across continent$, and assess the changing distribution of plants and animals on a warming planet. Knowing where things are- the spatial arrangement of everything from desens and rainforests, to acti\’e volcanoes and hurricanes-is key to wlderst.and· ing geography, and is emphasil£<1 throughout Ceosysrems Core.
Although dramatic global change is underway in physicaL chemical, and biological systems that support and sustain us, the environmental fu ture of o ur planet need not be bleak. Population growth rates are decreasi ng almost everywhere on Earth. Emerging technology is leading humanity away from dependence on fossil fuels and into an era where dean and renewable energy prevails. lmponant advances in soil science. water conservation, and crop management are making agriculture more produaive and sustainable. Advancing scientific knowledge and possibly lowering poveny rates worldwide offer enormous potential to make this twenty-first century one of great environmental restoration. For that to occur. all of us must understand the complex and interrelated environmental systems thal govern our unique planet. This study of physical geography takes us along this path.
Organization & Themes
The goal of physical geography is to explain the spatial dimension of Eanh’s dynamic systems- its energy, air, water. weather, climate. tectonics. landfomlS. rocks, soils, plants, ecosystems, and biomes. Cet~sysrems Core focuses on the most essential, core concepts of physical geography. The following themes present the major orga· nizational structure of the book.
• Earth Systems Science: Ceosysrems Core is organized around the natural now of energy, materials, and infonnation in our Earth system, presenting subjects in the same sequence in which they occur in nature (aunosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosph~e)-an organic. holisti( Earlh sys1ems approach thai is unique in this discipli ne.
• Climate Change Science : In corporating t11e latest climate change science and data throughout, Ceosysrems Core includes a dedicated chapter on clima te cl1ange, covering paleoclimatology and mechanisms for past climatic change. climate feedbacks and the global carbon budget, the evidence and causes of present climate change. climate forecasts and models, and anions that we can take to moderate Eartl1’s changing climate.
• Human-Earth Relationships: Each chapter concludes with The Human Denominator, explicitly focusing on the humanEanh dimension of physical geography within context of the chapter topic. These features include maps (spatial data), real-world examples (photos), and review of both current and potential future issues that help engage students by connecting physical geography concepts to their real-world environment.
• Geospatial Technology: Rapidly dewloping technologies pervade our everyday lives. Mapping and geospatialtechnologies such as CPS, CIS, and RS are high growt11 areal\, critical tools in the twenty-forst century that help us visualize, measure, and analyze Eanh’s natural and human-built features. and make every day decisions. Ceos)~tems Core integrates geospatial technology throughout all chapters 10 help students visualize and critically analyze the spatial d imensions of Eartl1’s physical geography.
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