Physical Geography

Lab Manual


On this page, you'll find:

  1. The Lab Manual Outline with links to the lab exercises
  2. Links to Instructor Resources

The Physical Geography Lab Manual was supported in part by the

Academic Senate for California Community College's

Open Educational Resources Initiative


Authored by

Waverly C. Ray, Faculty Lead (San Diego Mesa College)

Taya C. Lazootin (San Diego State University)

Scott J. Crosier (Cosumnes River College)

Jeremy G. Patrich (College of the Canyons)

Aline Nortes Gregorio (Fullerton College)

1st Edition


1. Lab Manual Outline

There are multiple options to access and download the lab manual.

As one file:

  • Word document (meets ASCCC accessibility requirements; 2nd edition; file size is 144 MB)
  • pdf document (file size is 241 MB; does not meet accessibility standards)

In Canvas Commons: PHYS-GEOG-LAB

As individual files:

  • Click on the hyperlinked lab titles below.

Cover and Title Pages, Tips for Students, and Table of Contents

Lab 1. Earth’s Geographic Grid

Part A. Latitude and Longitude

Part B. Earth’s Time Zones

Part C. The Public Land Survey

Part D. Wrap-Up

Lab 2. Map Interpretation

Part A. Map Projections

Part B. Map Elements

Part C. Topographic Maps

Part D. Surveying Activity

Part E. Google Earth Pro Activity

Part F. Wrap-Up

Lab 3. Earth-Sun Relationships

Part A. The Annual March of the Seasons

Part B. Angle of Incidence

Part C. Calculating Solar Altitude

Part D. Daylength Analysis

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 4. Earth’s Energy Budget

Part A. Electromagnetic Radiation

Part B. Net Radiation

Part C. Earth’s Energy Budget

Part D. Remote Sensing and Earth’s Energy Budget

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 5. Atmospheric Pressure and Wind

Part A. Measuring Air Pressure

Part B. Standard Atmospheric Pressure Profile

Part C. Global Mechanisms of Wind

Part D. The Global Circulation Model

Part E. Global Pressure and Temperature Patterns

Part F. Local and Regional Wind Patterns

Part G. Wrap-Up

Lab 6. Atmospheric Humidity

Part A. The Many Forms of Water

Part B. Atmospheric Humidity

Part C. Lifting Mechanisms

Part D. Adiabatic Rates

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 7. Cyclones

Part A. Air Masses

Part B. Fronts and Frontal Lifting

Part C. Midlatitude Cyclonic Storm Progression

Part D. Tropical Cyclones

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 8. Water Resources

Part A. The Hydrosphere

Part B. Watersheds and Groundwater

Part C. Water Budgets

Part D. Wrap-Up

Lab 9. Climate Patterns

Part A. Controls on Climate

Part B. Climate Classification

Part C. Synthesis: Your Local Climate

Part D. Wrap-Up

Lab 10. Climate Change

Part A. Understanding Climate Science

Part B. Anthropogenic Climate Change

Part C. The Blame Game: Four Ways of Looking at Carbon Footprints

Part D. Climate Justice

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 11. The Ocean-Atmosphere System

Part A. El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

Part B. Ocean Acidification

Part C. Wrap-Up

Lab 12. Introduction to Minerals and Rocks

Part A. Introduction to Minerals

Part B. Mineral Identification

Part C. Rocks and Their Properties

Part D. Rock Identification

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 13. Plate Tectonics

Part A. Tectonic Plates

Part B. Earth’s Interior

Part C. Tectonic Plate Boundaries

Part D. Hotspots

Part E. Plate Tectonics Synthesis

Part F. Wrap-Up

Lab 14. Seismology

Part A. Fault Types

Part B. Seismic Energy

Part C. Earthquake Magnitude and Intensity

Part D. Earthquake Probability and Risk

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 15. Fluvial Geomorphology

Part A. Streamflow and Carrying Capacity

Part B. Stream Profiles

Part C. Rivers Shaping the Landscape

Part D. Case Study: Elwha River, Washington

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 16. Coastal Geomorphology

Part A. Sediment Transport and Barrier Islands

Part B. Emergent and Submergent Coastlines

Part C. Coral Reef Coasts

Part D. Wrap-Up

Lab 17. Aeolian Geomorphology and Desert Landscapes

Part A. Arid Region Classification

Part B. Grain Transport and Size Distribution

Part C. Erosional Aeolian Landforms

Part D. Depositional Aeolian Landforms

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 18. Glacial Geomorphology

Part A. Glacial Processes

Part B. Glacial Erosional Landforms

Part C. Glacial Depositional Landforms

Part D. Glacial Lakes

Part E. Case Study: Taku and Norris Glaciers

Part F. Glaciers and Sea Level Rise

Part G. Wrap-Up

Lab 19. Pedology

Part A. Soil Properties

Part B. Soil Orders

Part C. Soil Order Exploration

Part D. Soil Conservation and Contamination

Part E. Wrap-Up

Lab 20. Biogeography

Part A. The Geography of Ecosystems—Making Sense of Where Things Live

Part B. Limiting Factors

Part C. Fire Ecology

Part D. California’s Biodiversity

Part E. Field Studies of an Ecosystem

Part F. Wrap-Up

2. Instructor Resources

Instructor Resources and lab exercises are available in the Canvas Commons: PHYS-GEOG-LAB

Instructors may request a copy of the answer key here.

You may click the Follow This Page + on the bottom-right, add your email address, and click Follow to be notified when there are updates to the lab manual resources.



Cover photos from Unsplash: Matteo Di Iorio (Death Valley, California), Jessica Furtney (Tallulah Falls, Georgia), Cosmin Serban (California coast), and Lee Junda (Singapore).

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