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Physical Geography: The Global Environment

Fifth edition

Joseph Mason, Jason Burt, Peter Muller, and Harm de Blij

Publication Date - 15 December 2015

ISBN: 9780190246860

672 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

Designed for maximum flexibility, this book's forty-nine short units make it easier for you to teach the course you want at a price your students can afford


Well known for its flexibility, clarity of presentation, and graphic excellence, Physical Geography: The Global Environment, Fifth Edition, provides a thorough, scientifically authoritative, accessible, and geographic view of Earth's physical systems.

New to this Edition

  • Extensive new figures guide students through complex concepts
  • In-depth treatment of biogeochemical cycles in Unit 20 emphasizes carbon and nitrogen cycles
  • Many figures have been enhanced digitally with live content that can easily be played on a smartphone
  • Carefully updated science. Descriptions and explanations have been methodically evaluated for accuracy, completeness, and currency. Examples of expanded coverage include:
  • o Enhanced coverage of the nitrogen cycle
  • o Systematic discussions of streams and glaciers as open systems
  • o A new discussion of evolution and its importance to biogeography


  • Flexible structure: Organized into forty-nine short, self-contained units, the book provides instructors with more freedom in assigning readings, rearranging the order in which materials are taught, and customizing content
  • Strong reliance on systems framework: Emphasizes Earth processes and interactions between spheres rather than memorization or terminology. Throughout the book, the authors apply the conservation principles presented in Unit 1 to explain phenomena from molecular to global scales, paying particular attention to feedbacks and the time scales on which they operate.
  • Keeps humans in the picture: Understanding the role of humans in the Earth system and its importance to society is critical to building a good geographic understanding. Using meticulously chosen examples, the authors effectively convey to students the two-way interaction between human society and the natural world
  • Accessible presentation: Written by four scholars-each with decades of successful teaching and writing experience-the book presents complex topics in clear language
  • Robust ancillary package for both instructors and students: includes the Oxford University Press Animation Series, Interactive Animation and Visualization Exercises, Test Questions, and a Lab Manual
  • Affordable price: Oxford University Press USA, a department of the University of Oxford, is a not-for-profit publisher devoted to furthering the university's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education

About the Author(s)

Joseph A. Mason
Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Joseph A. Mason has published dozens of publications and reports both as a faculty member and as a member of Nebraska's Conservation and Survey Division. An active teacher, he has taught a broad array of courses at the college and graduate level. Dr. Mason's research centers on eolian and hillslope geomorphology; loess stratigraphy/ sedimentology; pedology and soil geomorphology; paleopedology; Quaternary landscape evolution; and geomorphic response to Quaternary climate change, with a geographic focus on the Great Plains, northern China, the central Rocky Mountains, and the Upper Mississippi Valley.

James E. Burt
Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The author of two textbooks--Understanding Weather and Climate, Sixth Edition (2012), and Elementary Statistics for Geographers, Third Edition (2009)--James E. Burt is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in teaching, textbook authorship, and courseware development. Dr. Burt's graduate training was in climatology and quantitative spatial analysis, and he has long had research interests located at the intersection of physical geography and geographic information science. His current research projects revolve around expert systems modeling of the physical environment and knowledge discovery methods for geospatial data.

Peter O. Muller
Professor of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Miami
Peter O. Muller's many works include The World Today: Concepts and Regions in Geography, Sixth Edition (2012); Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts, Fifteenth Edition (2011); and Economic Geography, Third Edition (1998). Dr. Muller's articles have appeared in numerous journals including The Professional Geographer, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and American Quarterly. His research interests focus on the changing geography of the United States, particularly new forms of suburbanization. He is coeditor of the journal Urban Geography, and has also served as academic production consultant for the original Annenberg/Corporation of Public Broadcasting video series, The Power of Place.

H. J. de Blij (deceased)
John A. Hannah Professor of Geography, Michigan State University
An undergraduate course in physical geography was Harm de Blij's eye-opener. As a graduate student, he conducted field research in the Swaziland (Africa) Lowveld, working on the hypothesis that this 120-kilometer-long, steep-sided valley might be a southern spur of the great East African rift valley system (PhD, Northwestern University). Since then he has addressed topics ranging from continental drift to climate change and from heat summation in viticulture to rogue waves in oceans. His more than thirty books include technical, text, and trade titles and have been translated into Chinese, Russian, Italian, and other languages. In the media he vigorously promoted geography as indispensable to education, decision-making, and domestic and foreign policy formulation.

Previous Publication Date(s)

January 2013

Table of Contents

    UNIT 1 Introducing Physical Geography

    PART ONE A Planetary Perspective
    UNIT 2 The Planet Earth
    UNIT 3 Mapping Earth's Surface
    UNIT 4 Earth-Sun Relationships
    UNIT 5 Radiation and the Heat Balance of Planet Earth

    PART TWO Atmospheric and Oceanic Processes
    UNIT 6 Composition and Structure of the Atmosphere
    UNIT 7 Temperatures of the Lower Atmosphere
    UNIT 8 Air Pressure and Winds
    UNIT 9 Circulation Patterns of the Atmosphere
    UNIT 10 Circulation of the World Ocean
    UNIT 11 Atmospheric Moisture and the Water Balance
    UNIT 12 Precipitation, Air Masses, and Fronts
    UNIT 13 Weather Systems

    PART THREE Climate and Climate Change
    UNIT 14 Climate Classification and Regionalization
    UNIT 15 Tropical (A) and Arid (B) Climate
    UNIT 16 Mild Midlatitude (C) Climates
    UNIT 17 Higher Latitude (D, E) and High-Altitude (H) Climates
    UNIT 18 Natural Climate Change
    UNIT 19 Human Impacts on Climate

    PART FOUR The Biosphere
    UNIT 20 Biogeochemical Cycles
    UNIT 21 Formation of Soils
    UNIT 22 Properties of Soil
    UNIT 23 Classification and Mapping of Soils
    UNIT 24 Biogeographic Processes
    UNIT 25 The Global Distribution of Plants
    UNIT 26 Zoogeography: Spatial Aspects of Animal Populations

    PART FIVE The Restless Crust
    UNIT 27 Minerals and Igneous Rocks
    UNIT 28 Sedimentary and Metamorphic Rocks
    UNIT 29 Planet Earth in Profile: The Layered Interior
    UNIT 30 Plates of the Lithosphere
    UNIT 31 Plate Movement: Causes and Effects
    UNIT 32 Volcanism and Its Landforms
    UNIT 33 Earthquakes and Landscapes
    UNIT 34 Faults, Folds, and Landscapes

    PART SIX Sculpting the Surface: Weathering, Mass Movements, and Flowing Water
    UNIT 35 The Formation of Landforms and Landscapes
    UNIT 36 Weathering Processes
    UNIT 37 Mass Movements
    UNIT 38 Water in the Lithosphere
    UNIT 39 Slopes and Streams
    UNIT 40 Landscapes Shaped by Stream Erosion
    UNIT 41 Landforms of the Fluvial System
    UNIT 42 Karst Processes and Landforms

    PART SEVEN Sculpting the Surface: Ice, Wind, and Coastal Processes
    UNIT 43 Glacial Erosion and Deposition
    UNIT 44 Landforms and Landscapes of Continental Glaciation
    UNIT 45 Landforms and Landscapes of Mountain Glaciers
    UNIT 46 Periglacial Environments and Landscapes
    UNIT 47 Wind as a Geomorphic Agent
    UNIT 48 Coastal Processes
    UNIT 49 Coastal Landforms and Landscapes

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