Elements of Physical Geography

University of Alaska, Chugiak-Eagle River Campus

Bjarne Holm, Instructor
Office: Eagle River Campus 288G
Time: Spring 2007
Office Hours: Wednesday 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Wednesday, 6:30PM -9:20 PM
telephone: 346-3910 / 230-7304
Location: Eagle River Campus 204
email: bjarneholm@ak.net

Welcome to Geography A205

Section 191


Augustine Volcano, Alaska

 This 3.0 credit class meets part of the General Education Requirement for Natural Science. To meet the full graduation requirement, students are also encouraged to sign up for the 1.0 credit GEOG A205L Elements of Physical Geography Laboratory class.

Goals: In this class you will study the dramatic, and some times catastrophic forces shaping the physical surface of our planet and its biosphere. We will also look at evidence for global warming, and the present and future impacts humans may have on our planet.

Text Book: Essentials of Physical Geography, 8th Edition. Authors: Robert E. Gabler, James F. Pattersen, and L. Michael Trapasso. The text is available in the UAA bookstore.

Evaluation Options: You will have the option of two methods of evaluation: Journals or Testing:

Journal Option



150 Points

First Journal Due


176 Points

Second Journal Due


204 Points

Third Journal Due


220 Points

Class Projects


80 Points

Field Trip Commitment


20 Points

Field Project


150 Points



1000 Points

Testing Option



150 Points

Mid-Term Exam


300 Points

Final Exam


300 Points

Class Projects


80 Points

Field Trip Commitment


20 Points

Field Project


150 Points



1000 Points

• Journal Option: You will have the option of submitting journals on February 13th, March 26th and April 30th, rather than taking exams. Any students who do not submit their first journal by February 14th will automatically have chosen the testing option, as described below.

What I will look for in the journals is a chronological summary of all events that occur in each class session: lectures, text assignments, videos, digital computer presentations, slides, classroom exercises, handouts, and the like. Thoroughly read the pages in the chapter that correlate to class sessions, so you can include that effort in your journal discussion.

I will be looking for an evaluation of the materials from you, likes and dislikes, how the materials relates to current events, and to your own personal interests. For materials of my own that I present to class, in the form of slides and digital images, students sometimes feel awkward when it comes to providing criticism, which I understand. However, I do expect at least a summary of those materials.

The journals for each class session should be titled by the date and "Number" of the class, and be a minimum of four pages long, typed in a normal sized font, and be double spaced. The journal should in ordinary prose language, rather than note form, and be thoroughly proof read for correct grammar and punctuation. On March 5th the lecture will take place during the first part of class followed by the Mid-Term Option, so for that day, I will expect an abbreviated journal.

• Test Option: Questions will be multiple choice, short answers in nature.

• Participation: Class attendance sheets will be available as you enter the classroom. Be sure to sign in. Students are expected to arrive on time in class and to remain for the entire class period, and your attendance will constitute a significant portion of your participation grade.

• Class Projects: During the course of the class you will be given a number of assignments to complete. Your percent average score for these projects will govern this portion of your grade.

• Field Project Options: You will have the option of attending a field trip that I will organize, or you can conduct your own field trip. (The field trip will be different from any project you might undertake for Geography A205L, Elements of Physical Geography Laboratory.) If you have a physical disability which may prevent you from hiking in the out-of-doors, please see me well before the due date of this planned activity.

On April 2nd you will be asked to make a Field Trip Commitment, based upon the options below. This commitment will be worth 20 points, or 2% of your grade.

Option One: Class field trip to the Matanuska Valley on Saturday, April 12th to study glaciation and catastrophic river erosion. We will also go fossil hunting. This is a six hour long field trip that will involve an 800 foot climb to the top of Bodenburg Butte. I have taken students on this field trip during each of the previous 21 years. See web site for more information, including field trip pictures from previous years: http://bjarneholm.com/uaa.html

Option Two: You can conduct your own field trip investigation. The trip should be a walking tour between two and four miles in length, through a largely natural landscape. Your field trip should be outside of any urban areas and city parks. If you choose this option, you should describe in your Field Trip Commitment what features and processes you think you are going to see and write about. Research the literature for your area. A minimum of two references should be cited in your report. The USGS office on the APU Campus is a good place to start your research.

Field Trip Report: Once you have completed the field portion of the exercise, you are asked to complete a report, providing an explanation of the natural forces at work, creating and altering the landscape features you observed, in addition to the scale of time involved in these changes. You are asked to complete the report in two parts, due from you by April 23rd. One will be a map or maps of the area(s) investigated, complete with proper legends. The second item will be a 4-6 page (1000-1500 word) typed essay, summarizing the findings of your field investigation. Include a summary and critique of field trip activities, handout materials and, and related readings from your text, if you went on the class organized field trip. Likewise summarize your field trip activities, your research investigations and related text readings, if you are completing an independent field project.

Class Rule:

Although the schedule for material I will cover may change, the due dates for Exams and Class Projects, will remain fixed. Work submitted past the due date will not be graded.

Each student is certainly capable of earning an excellent grade, provided they engage their best effort, take pride in their work, and make a serious commitment to this class.


#1 Wed. Jan. 16

Introduction / Climates of the Past, and Evidence for Current Climate Changes.

Chapter 8. Climates of the Past p. 217 to end of chapter.

#2 Wed. Jan. 23

The Nature of Science, and Our Perspective of the Universe.

Chapter 1. Geography's Physical Science Perspective p. 12. Chapter 3. Earth in Space and Solar Energy (all of chapter).

#3 Wed. Jan. 30

Forces of the Wind.

Chapter 5. Atmospheric Pressure, Winds, and Circulation Patterns (all of chapter).

#4 Wed. Feb. 6

The Cycles of Water.

Chapter 6. Moisture, Condensation and Precipitation (all of chapter).

#5 Wed. Feb. 13

Unsettled Weather with a Focus on Tornadoes. / JOURNAL OPTION, FIRST DUE DATE (Sessions 1-4).

Chapter 7. Air Masses and Weather Systems p. 174 through p. 195.

#6 Wed. Feb. 20

Unsettled Weather with a Focus on Hurricanes.

Chapter 7. Hurricanes p. 196 through p. 203.

#7 Wed. Feb. 27

Water Resources.

Chapter 16. Underground Water and Karst Landforms (all of chapter).

#8 Wed. Mar. 5

Special guest presentation by Ron Crawford. / MID-TERM EXAM OPTION (Sessions 1-7).

No text assignment. All students need to turn in one true/false and one multiple choice question based upon Ron Crawford's presentation.

Wed. Mar. 12



#9 Wed. Mar. 19

Natural Underground Forces Shaping the Earth.

Chapter 13. Earth Materials, the Lithosphere, and Plate Tectonics (all diagrams and captions ONLY).

#10 Wed. Mar. 26

Volcanoes with Focus on Alaska, and Introduction to Earthquakes. / JOURNAL OPTION, SECOND DUE DATE (Sessions 5-9).

Chapter 14. Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Tectonic Landforms, p. 392 up to Earthquakes p. 412.

#11 Wed. Apr. 2

Volcanoes Beyond Alaska, Earthquakes and Tsunamis. / Field Trip Commitment due.

Chapter 14. Earthquakes p. 412 to end of chapter.

#12 Wed, Apr. 9

Forces Breaking Down Landscape Features.

Chapter 15. Class canclelled due to snow storm. Study diagrams and figure descriptions in chapter only.

Sat. Apr. 12

Class Field Trip option to the Matanuska Valley. (yes the field trip is on as scheduled).


#13 Wed. Apr. 16

Landscapes Near the Margins of Glaciers.

Chapter 10. Polar Climate Regions p. 279 to end of chapter.

#14 Wed. Apr. 23

Glacial Landscapes. Field Trip Report due.

Chapter 19. Glacial Systems and Landforms (all of chapter).

Wed. Apr. 30

FINAL (Sessions 8-14) or JOURNAL OPTION, THIRD DUE DATE (Sessions 10-14).


••••• I hope you enjoy this class •••••

Web Page: http://www.bjarneholm.com/

This page has been created by, and is updated by Bjarne Holm. I can be reached at: Email Bjarne Holm or 11441 Browder Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99507. You can also reach me by phone/fax at 907-346-3910, cell 907-230-7304, or Bjarne Holm's home page.