University of Colorado at Boulder

 

Dept Theme

Physical Geography


Climatology, geomorphology, biogeography, arctic and alpine systems, hydrology, and global change

Physical geography integrates and inter-relates landforms, water, soils, climate, and vegetation as the major natural elements of the environment. The focus of physical geography is on the zone of the land, ocean, and atmosphere containing most of the world's organic life. Physical geography not only describes natural phenomena near the surface of the earth but, more importantly, seeks explanations of how and why the physical and biological processes act as they do. Physical geography includes processes studied in other physical and natural sciences such as meteorology, geology, biology, and soil science, however, physical geography is more than a mere composite of these other sciences. It takes a uniquely comprehensive approach to the processes of the natural environment, often with an emphasis on human modifications to the environment.

Faculty teaching and/or performing research in physical geography

Waleed
Abdalati
Remote Sensing of Earth’s Ice Cover Physical
Suzanne
Anderson
Geomorphology; Weathering; Hydrology; Glaciology Physical
Jennifer K.
Balch
Fire ecology; Land use/landcover change; Global change ecology; Tropical forest ecology Physical
Holly R.
Barnard
Ecohydrology; Stable Isotope Geochemistry; Forest Hydrology; Tree Physiology Physical
Peter
Blanken
Climatology;  Biometeorology Physical
Noah
Molotch
Surface Water and Snow Hydrology; Remote Sensing; Ecohydrology Physical
John
Pitlick
Geomorphology; Water Resources; Natural Hazards Physical
Mark
Serreze
Arctic climate; global implications; and climate warming in the Arctic Physical
Tom
Veblen
Biogeography; Conservation Physical
Mark
Williams
Alpine Biogeochemistry; Hydrology; Snow Hydrology; and Nutrient Cycling. Physical

Graduate Students in physical geography

33 students total. TIP: To sort by more than one column, hold down the shift key while clicking an additional column header.

Name Degree     Specialties Advisor
Adams, Hallie M.A. forest ecology; ecohydrology Barnard
Amante, Christopher Ph.D. Sea ice; glacier melt; climate change Abdalati
Andrus, Robert M.A. biogeography; dendrochronology; disturbance ecology; forest ecology Veblen
Baker, Emily M.A. snow hydrology; forest disturbance Molotch
Barnhart, Theodore Ph.D. terrestrial hydrology Molotch
Burns, Sean Ph.D. Subalpine Forest Carbon and Water Cycling Blanken
Burns, Margaret M.A. carbon cycling; soils; hydrology Barnard
Byers, Anya M.A. Biogeography; forest changes; sustainable land management Barnard
Chapman, Teresa Ph.D. Biogeography Veblen
Cowie, Rory Ph.D. Mountain Hydrology Williams
Crawford, Alexander M.A. climate change; polar research; snow and ice Serreze
Gartner, Meredith Ph.D. Fire/Beetle Interaction Veblen
Grant, Glenn Ph.D. x Serreze
Grigsby, Shane Ph.D. x Abdalati
Hafich, Katya M.A. alpine hydrology, climate change, snowmelt timing Williams
Hicks, Julia Ph.D. Biogeography, Conservation Biology, Forest Ecology, Avian Diversity Veblen
Hill, Alice Ph.D. snow and ice; water resources and repurcussions in a changing climate Williams
Hurley, Allison M.A. Cyrosphere science; soils; spatial analysis Serreze
Jennings, Keith Ph.D. x Molotch
Knowles, John Ph.D. Biogeochemistry; Hydrology; Ecosystem ecology Blanken
Longenecker, H.E. Ph.D. Climatology; Climate Change; Hazard/Risk Vulnerability Travis
MacFerrin, Michael Ph.D. Cryosphere-sea, earth, ice interactions; remote sensing; GIS Abdalati
Mills, Taylor Ph.D. Small-scale hydrologic systems; water chemistry Anderson
Moukomla, Sitthisak Ph.D. Remote sensing; Ocean-land-atmosphere interaction Blanken
Moussavi, Mahsa Ph.D. Remote sensing; earth ice cover Abdalati
Naficy, Cameron Ph.D. Disturbance ecology; tree ecophysiology; climate variability; restoration; remote sensing Veblen
Petchprayoon, Pakorn Ph.D. Remote Sensing & Surface Energy Balance Blanken
Rother , Monica Ph.D. Biogeography; wildfire; climate; dendrochronology Veblen
Schneider, Dominik Ph.D. mountain and snow hydrology, interaction between vegetation and snowmelt runoff, water resources Molotch
Weber, Kristy M.A. x Blanken
Wilson, Alana M.A. climate change, water resources and the cryosphere Williams
Yilmaz, Bunyamin M.A. watershed management; avalanche control Williams
Zhang, Qinghuan Ph.D. hydrology and water resources Williams

GEOG courses related to physical geography.

Caution: These lists are incomplete.

Fall 2014

Num Num Sect Title Hrs   Instructor
1001 Env Systems 1 - Climate and Vegetation 4 Molotch
1011 Env Systems 2 - Landscapes and Water 4 Amante
3023 Statistics for Geography 4 Root
3251 Mountain Geography 3
3351 Biogeography 3 Hicks
3511 Introduction to Hydrology 4 Pitlick
3601 Principles of Climate 3 Weiss
3930 5930 Internship 3 Bryan
4093 5093 Remote Sensing of the Environment 4 Stum
4173 Research Seminar 3 Travis
4241 Principles of Geomorphology 4 Anderson
4271 5271 The Arctic Climate System 3 Serreze
4371 5371 Forest Geography Principles & Dynamics 3 Barnard
4401 5401 Soils Geography 3 Liptzin, Daniel
5152 History and Theory of Geography 3 Travis

 

Summer 2014

Num Num Sect Title Hrs   Instructor
1001 100 Env Systems 1 - Climate and Vegetation 4 Rother
1011 200 Env Systems 2 - Landscapes and Water 4 Amante
3251 001 Mountain Geography 3 Rother
3251 200 Mountain Geography 3 Smith
4100 570 Special Topics: Hydrologic Field Methods and Research Design 3 Hill
4742 570 Environments and Peoples: Boulder's Open Space 3 Pike

 

Spring 2014

Num Num Sect Title Hrs   Instructor
1001 Env Systems 1 - Climate and Vegetation 4 Hicks
1011 Env Systems 2 - Landscapes and Water 4 Anderson
3511 Introduction to Hydrology 4 Pitlick
3601 Principles of Climate 3 Blanken
4023 5023 Quantitative Methods 4 Spielman
4093 5093 Remote Sensing of the Environment 4 Hussein
4251 5251 Fluvial Geomorphology 3 Pitlick
4321 5321 Snow Hydrology 4 Molotch
4501 5501 Wtr Resources/Mgmt in the US West 3 Lander
5100 001 Special Topics: Physical Basis for Climate Change 3 Serreze
5100 002 Special Topics: Writing and Presenting in Physical Science 3 Barnard
5161 002 Research Design in Physical Geography 3 Veblen
5241 Topics in Physical Geog: The Critical Zone of Earth 1 Anderson
6211 Reading in Climatology 1 Abdalati & Blanken

 

Undergrad Courses Applicable to a Concentration in Physical Geography

The following two courses are prerequisites to all upper division courses listed further below.  
GEOG 1001  Environmental Systems: Climate and Vegetation** 
GEOG 1011  Environmental Systems 2: Landscapes and Water**

Among upper division courses, the following sequences are suggested:   
Climatology:  GEOG 3301; 3601; 4211; 4231; 4331 
Biogeography:  GEOG 3351; 4351; 4371; 4401 
Hydrology and Geomorphology: GEOG 3511; 4241; 4321; 4401 

In addition, you will find it important to complete one course in statistics at the time you commence upper division work in physical geography. Students considering graduate school in physical geography are strongly encouraged to complete a year of coursework in general chemistry, physics, calculus, and statistics. 

Upper Division Courses: 
GEOG 3301  Analysis of  Climate and Weather Observations**  (Prereq: GEOG 1001 or ATOC 1050/1060, 3600 and a statistics course) 
GEOG 3601  Principles of Climate**  (Prereq: 1 semester calculus or instructor approval) 
GEOG 3351  Biogeography  (Prereq: GEOG 1001) 
GEOG 3511  Introduction to Hydrology**  (Prereq:  GEOG 1011) 
GEOG 4211  Physical Climatology - Principles  (Prereq:  GEOG 1001) 
GEOG 4231  Physical Climatology/Field Methods (Prereq: GEOG 1001 and 4211 or 5211) 
GEOG 4241  Principles of Geomorphology**   (Prereq: GEOG 1011)  (Restricted to Jr/Sr GEOG/GEOL/ENVS majors) 
GEOG 4261  Glaciers and Permafrost   (Recommended Prereq:  GEOG 4241)  
GEOG 4271  The Arctic Climate System   (Prereq:  GEOG 1001) 
GEOG 4311  Watershed Biogeochemistry   (Prereq:  GEOG 1011, 3511) 
GEOG 4321  Snow Hydrology (Prereq: GEOG 1001 and 1011; any statistics course)   
GEOG 4331  Mountain Climatology  (Prereq GEOG 1001 or ATOC 1050/1060) 
GEOG 4371  Forest Geography: Principles and Dynamics  (Prereq: GEOG 1001) 
GEOG 4383  Methods of Vegetation Analysis (Prereq or Coreq GEOG 4371) 
GEOG 4401  Soils Geography  (Prereq 1011; Recommended Prereq inorganic chemistry) 
GEOG 4411  Methods of Soil Analysis  (Prereq: GEOG 1001 or 1011; Prereq/Coreq GEOG 4401/5401) 

**core curriculum course 

 

Undergrad Courses in other Departments Related to Physical Geography

Caution: These courses do not count as hours in the Geography Major.
Check with the appropriate department for the prerequisites for these courses. 

ATOC  1050   Weather and the Atmosphere (and 1070 lab)**  
ATOC  1060   Our Changing Environment: El Nino, Ozone, and Climate** 
CHEM  1111   General Chemistry 1*
CHEM  1131   General Chemistry 2** 
EBIO  1210   General Biology 1** 
EBIO  1220   General Biology 2** 
EBIO  2040   Principles of Ecology 
EBIO  3040   Conservation Biology 
EBIO  3160   Paleoecology 
EBIO  3180   Global Ecology** 
EBIO 4060 Landscape Ecology 
GEOL 3030 Introduction to Hydrogeology 
GEOL  3040   Global Change: The Recent Geological Record** 
GEOL  3520   Environmental Issues in Geosciences 
GEOL  4360   Glacial Geology   
MATH  1300   Analytic Geometry & Calculus 1** 
MATH  2300   Analytic Geometry & Calculus 2 
MATH  2510   Introduction to Statistics   
PHYS  1110   General Physics 1**  
PHYS  1120   General Physics 2** 
PHYS  1140   Experimental Physics 1** 

**core curriculum course 

Selected Publications by Faculty and Graduate Students associated with physical geography

Faculty

 Waleed Abdalati

 Suzanne Anderson

Anderson, RS, Anderson, SP, and Tucker, GE . (2013). Rock damage and regolith transport by frost: An example of climate modulation of critical zone geomorphology. . Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 38: 299-316. doi:10.1002/esp.3330

Anderson, SP, Anderson, RS, and Tucker, GE . (2012). Landscape scale linkages in critical zone evolution. Comptes rendus- Geoscience 344: 586-596. doi:10.1016/j.crte.2012.10.008

Hinckley, E.-L., Ebel, B.A., Barnes, R.T., Anderson, R.S., Williams, M.W., and Anderson, S.P. (2012). Aspect control of water movement on hillslopes near the rain-snow transition of the Colorado Front Range, U.S.A. Hydrological Processes. doi:10.1002/hyp.9549

Frederick, ZA, Anderson, SP, and Striegl, R. (2011). Annual estimates of water and solute export from 42 tributaries to the Yukon River. Hydrological Processes. 10.1002/hyp.8255

Riggins, SG, Anderson, RS, Anderson, SP, and Tye, AM. (2011). Solving a conundrum of a steady-state hillslope with variable soil depths and production rates, Bodmin Moor, UK. Geomorphology, 128: 73-84.

 Jennifer K. Balch

Balch, J.K., D.C. Nepstad, L.M. Curran, P.M. Brando, O. Portela, P. Guilherme, J.D. Reuning-Scherer, and O. de Carvalho Jr. (2011). Size, species, and fire characteristics predict tree and liana mortality from experimental burns in the Brazilian Amazon. Forest Ecology & Management 261:68-77.

Balch, J.K., D.C. Nepstad, P.M. Brando, and A. Alencar. (2010). Comment on ‘The Incidence of Fire in Amazonian Forests with Implications for REDD.’. Science 330:1627.

Balch, J.K., D.C. Nepstad, and L.M. Curran. (2009). Pattern and process: Fire-initiated grass invasion at Amazon transitional forest edges. Chapter 17 in Tropical Fire Ecology: Climate Change, Land Use and Ecosystem Dynamics (ed. Mark Cochrane). Springer/Praxis Publishing, UK.

Bowman, D.M.J.S.*, J.K. Balch*, P. Artaxo, W.J. Bond, J.M. Carlson, M.A. Cochrane, C.M. D’Antonio, R.S. DeFries, J.C. Doyle, S.P. Harrison, F.H. Johnston, J.E. Keeley, M.A. Krawchuk, C.A. Kull, J.B. Marston, M.A. Moritz, I.C. Prentice, C.I. Roos, A.C. Scott, T.W. Swetnam, G.R. van der Werf, and S.J. Pyne. *Authors contributed equally. (2009). Fire in the Earth system . Science 324:481-484. (Selected for “Faculty of 1000 Biology” list of important articles.).

Bowman, D.M.J.S., J.K. Balch, P. Artaxo, W.J. Bond, M.A. Cochrane, C.M. D’Antonio, R.S. DeFries, F.H. Johnston, J.E. Keeley, M.A. Krawchuk, C.A. Kull, M. Mack, M.A. Moritz, S.J. Pyne, C.I. Roos, A.C. Scott, N.S. Sodhi, T.W. Swetnam. (in press). The human dimension of fire regimes on Earth. Journal of Biogeography.

 Holly R. Barnard

 Peter Blanken

Knowles, J.F., Blanken, P.D., Williams, M.W., and Chowanski, K.M. (2012). Energy and surface moisture seasonally limit evaporation and sublimation from snow-free alpine tundra. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 157, 106-115.

Blanken, P.D., Spence, C., Hedstrom, N., and Lenters, J. (2011). Evaporation from Lake Superior: 1. Physical controls and processes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 37(4), 707-716.

Liu, H., Blanken, P.D., Weidinger, T., Nordbo, A., and Vesala, T. (2011). Variability in cold front activities modulating cool-season evaporation from a southern inland water in the USA. Environmental Research Letters, 6(2). DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/6/2/024022

Petchprayoon, P., Blanken, P.D., Ekkawatpanit, C., and Hussein, K. (2010). Hydrological impacts of land use/land cover change in a large river basin in central-northern Thailand. International Journal of Climatology, 30(13), 1917-1930. DOI:10.1002/joc.2131

Alfieri, J.G., Blanken, P.D., Smith, D. and Morgan, J.A. (2009). Concerning the measurement and magnitude of heat, water vapor and carbon dioxide exchange from a semiarid grassland. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 48(5), 982-996.

 Sarah Hart

 Noah Molotch

 Brian O'Neill

 John Pitlick

Anderson, S., and J. Pitlick. (2014). Using repeat lidar to estimate sediment transport in a steep stream . Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface, v. 119, p. 621-643. doi:10.1002/2013JF002933

Mueller, E.R. and J. Pitlick. (2014). Sediment supply and channel morphology in mountain river systems: 2. Single thread to braided transitions. Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface, v. 119, p. 1516–1541. doi:10.1002/2013JF003045

Mueller, E.R., and J. Pitlick. (2013). Sediment supply and channel morphology in mountain river systems: 1. Relative importance of lithology, topography, and climate . Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface, v. 118, p. 2325–2342. doi:10.1002/2013JF002843

Pitlick, J., J. Marr, and J. Pizzuto. (2013). Width adjustment in experimental gravel-bed channels in response to overbank flows. Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface, v. 118, p. 553-570. doi:10.1002/jgrf.20059

Segura C., J. H. McCutchan, W. M. Lewis, and J. Pitlick. (2011). The influence of channel bed disturbance on algae biomass in a Colorado mountain stream. Ecohydrology, v. 4, p. 411-421. doi:10.1002/eco.142

 Tania Schoennagel

 Mark Serreze

Serreze, M.C., A.P. Barrett, J.C. Stroeve, D.N. Kindig and M.M. Holland. (2009). The emergence of surface-based Arctic amplification. The Cryosphere, 3, 11-19.

Serreze.,M.C. and A.P. Barrett. (2008). The summer cyclone maximum over the central Arctic Ocean. J. Climate, 21, 1048-1065.

Serreze, M.C., A.P. Barrett, A.G. Slater, M. Steele, J. Zhang and K.E. Trenberth. (2007). The large-scale energy budget of the Arctic. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D11122. doi:10.1029/2006JD008230

Serreze, M.C., M.M. Holland and J. Stroeve. (2007). Perspectives on the Arctic's rapidly shrinking sea-ice cover. Science, 315, 1533-1536.

Serreze, M.C., A.P. Barrett, A.G. Slater, R.A. Woodgate, K. Aagaard, R.B. Lammers, M. Steele, R. Moritz, M. Meredith and C.M. Lee. (2006). The large-scale freshwater cycle of the Arctic. J. Geophys. Res., 111, C11010. doi:10.1029/2005JC003424

 Tom Veblen

 Mark Williams

Leopold M, Williams MW, Caine N, Volkel J, Dethier D. (2011). Internal Structure of the Green Lake 5 Rock Glacier, Colorado Front Range, USA. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes. Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com). DOI:10.1002/ppp.706

Freppaz M, D Godone, G Filippa, M Maggioni, S Lunardi, MW Williams, E Zanini. (2010). Soil Erosion Caused by Snow Avalanches: A Case Study in the Aosta Valley (NW-ITALY). Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, Vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 412-421.

Schmidt S.K., R.C. Lynch, A.J. King, D. Karki, M.S. Robeson, L. Nagy, M.W. Williams, M.S. Mitter, and K.R. Freeman. (2010). Phylogeography of microbial phototrophs in the dry valleys of the high Himalayas and Antarctica. Proceedings of the Royal Society. B, pp 1-7. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1254

Williams MW, TA Erickson, and JL Petrzelka. (2010). Visualizing meltwater flow through snow at the centimetre-to-metre scale using a snow guillotine. Hydrological Processes. DOI:10.1002/hyp.7630

Filippa G, M Freppaz, MW Williams, E Zanini. (in press). Major Element Chemistry in inner-alpine Snowpacks (Aosta Valley Region, North Western Italy). Cold Regions Science and Technology. doi:10.1016/j.coldregions.2010.07.005


Grad Students

John Knowles

Burns SP, Molotch NP, Williams MW, Knowles JF, Seok B, Monson RK, Turnsipseed AA, Blanken PD. (2014). Snow temperature changes within a seasonal snowpack and their relationship to turbulent fluxes of sensible and latent heat. Journal of Hydrometeorology 15: 117-142.

Knowles JF, Burns SP, Blanken PD, Monson RK. (2014). Fluxes of energy, water, and carbon dioxide from mountain ecosystems at Niwot Ridge, Colorado. Plant Ecology & Diversity. doi:10.1080/17550874.2014.904950

Knowles JF, Blanken PD, Williams MW, Chowanski KM. (2012). Energy and surface moisture seasonally limit evaporation and sublimation from snow-free alpine tundra. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 157: 106-115.

Blanken PD, Williams MW, Burns SP, Monson RK, Knowles J, Chowanski K, Ackerman T . (2009). A comparison of water and carbon dioxide exchange at a windy alpine tundra and subalpine forest site near Niwot Ridge, Colorado. Biogeochemistry 95(1): 61-76.

News and Events related to physical geography

Events

Sep 2013
Post-fire vegetation dynamics and feedbacks on fire susceptibility in Nothofagus forests of New Zealand

Sep 2013
Climate change, disturbance interactions and adaptive forest management in Central Europe and Colorado

Sep 2011
CU Museum of Natural History exhibit Burning Issues: The Fourmile Canyon Fire

Dec 2010
Sedge Meadows of the Wyoming Basin Shrub-Steppe—Are they Wetlands?

Nov 2010
A Hydrologic Perspective on Land-Atmosphere Interactions: Moving from Point Observations to Watershed Fluxes

Nov 2010
Spatial-complexity in scenarios of eco-hydrologic responses to warming in the Western US

Oct 2010
From research to service: Informing adaptation in a changing climate

Oct 2010
Info session for undergraduates.

Sep 2010
Chemical potamology: Balancing the dissolved and solid river flux

Apr 2010
Small Scale Snowpack Surface Roughness Variability Measurements

Apr 2010
Contribution of melting glaciers to the hydrology of Nepal

Mar 2010
Himalayan glaciers and 'voodoo science': Integrating remote sensing, field methods and indigenous knowledge about climate change

Jan 2010
Ice Sheets, Sea Ice and Satellites: Transforming Polar Paradigms

Nov 2009
Soil and snow avalanches: A connected system in the Italian Alps

Oct 2009
From the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada rises the city of Los Angeles: new tools for water resource management at a time of crisis

Oct 2009
Sediment supply to channels: How coarse is it, and how coarse is too coarse for salmon spawning substrates?

Oct 2009
Not All Water Becomes Wine: Sulfur as an Opportune Tracer of Hydrochemical Losses

Sep 2009
Signals and noise: examining media representations of climate change

Sep 2009
Panel Discussion on research publications and funding in physical and human geography

Sep 2009
Melting ice and resource geopolitics competition in the Arctic


More Events >>