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Earth, Environment, and Climate


The Department's physical geography research and teaching activities provide a solid foundation for the next generation of physical geographers to address current and future topics related to the physical earth, environment, and climate.

The Earth and its environment represent a complex and dynamic system that has undergone change for millions of years. For most of this time, changes to Earth's physical environment could be attributed to natural processes, but in the era of human activity, anthropogenic processes have become more important. Current direction for earth and environmental research is (1) to study past, current, and future interactions among the continents, oceans, atmosphere, ice, and life; (2) to understand the relative roles of human-induced and natural processes in these interactions; and (3) to understand and predict changes in Earth's physical environment.

Physical geography is the study of the physical earth and encompasses spatial and temporal analyses of the physical and biological elements and processes that comprise the environment: air, water, energy, weather, climate, land, animals, and plants. The University of Georgia's Department of Geography has a strong emphasis in physical geography, as reflected by its research portfolio, faculty composition, and available resources. The Department's physical geography research and teaching activities provide a solid foundation for the next generation of physical geographers to address current and future topics related to the physical earth, environment, and climate. Broad research interests within the Department include (click on a topic for more information): (1) Paleo-Environments, (2) Geomorphic Systems, (3) Vegetation Dynamics and Ecological Modeling, (4) Cryosphere-Hydrosphere Processes, (5) Weather-Climate Processes and (6) Biogeography. The Department also offers a certificate program in Atmospheric Sciences.

These broader areas embody a larger array of research topics that, at times, enable interdisciplinary collaboration with Departmental colleagues in human geography and geographic information systems. Physical geography researchers within the Department also have strong collaborative ties and intellectual exchanges with other campus departments, including the Institute of Ecology, Department of Geology, Department of Marine Sciences, Department of Plant Biology, Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, and the Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science.

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Within a transdisciplinary framework, the Andean cloud forest belt was appraised and recommended into a new ecoregion of its own: the Andean Flanks.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 9:13pm

UGA Geography's David Leigh and a team of researchers review and synthesize spatially extensive studies of oligotrophic mountain streams in the rural Southern Appalachian Mountains, concluding that rural land-use activities significantly degrade water quality…

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 12:34pm

It’s not just student-athletes who need guidelines for heat protection during practice. This time of year, you hear a lot about heat-related illnesses in athletes. Thousands of student-athletes are sidelined by heat illnesses each year, and some don’t recover…

Thursday, September 2, 2021 - 10:42am

Seven students from universities across Georgia have been selected to participate in the year-long Georgia Sea Grant Research Trainee program at the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, one of which is the Geography department's very own Ph.D students,…


Physical geography, specifically dynamics of weather and climate, geoscience education, atmospheric hazards, meteorological applications of social media data

Research Interests: GIScience and Landscape Ecology, including remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), spatio-temporal analysis, geovisualization and geographic object-based image analysis, as applied to landscape-scale biological/physical processes and human/animal-impacts on the environment.

Science Advisor for NASA…

Montology, Neotropical mountains, critical biogeography, political ecology and socioecological landscapes and seascapes. Current projects dealing with climate change adaptation, mountainscape conservation, ecological legacies and restoration of tropandean landscapes.

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