Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education

Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition

  • James Petersen
  • Dorothy Sack
  • Robert E. Gabler
  • ISBN-10: 1133606539
  • ISBN-13: 9781133606536
  • 544 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2011
  • COPYRIGHT: 2015 Published
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About the Product

Cengage Learning's FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY brings course concepts to life with interactive learning, study, and exam preparation tools along with market leading text content for introductory physical geography courses. Adopt the resources that enable your students to purchase the right solution to meet their needs, whether it's a traditional printed text, all digital learning platform, or package that includes the best of both worlds. With the recently updated FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY and CourseMate's interactive teaching and learning tools, it's never been easier to help students understand the relationship between humans and physical geography, and how one impacts the other.


  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography encourages students to view physical geography through the lens of a spatial perspective, a physical science perspective, and an environmental perspective.

  • True to it's first edition roots, this update provides a concise yet complete introduction to the science of geosystems, engaging students with its overall theme of showcasing the "impact of earth on humans, and humans on the earth," especially appealing for instructors interested in emphasizing sustainability in their course.

  • A strong visual presentation in art, maps, story spreads, explanatory figures, and online resources reinforces geography as the "spatial science," motivates students, and provides visual support to concepts. Many photographs are accompanied by location maps for spatial context.

  • High interest coverage, such as recent issues, problems, and disasters provide exciting content but also strike a personal note to many readers. Issues and problems make concepts real and show students what can happen in their own backyards.

  • Map interpretations aid in cartographic understanding of the material. Google Earth activities teach geographic exploration using popular digital mapping software.

  • Critical thinking questions, which follow most captions, reinforce the emphasis on geography as a science.

  • FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY provides students with fascinating coverage of topics such as feedback mechanisms, GIS/GPS systems, and global climate change debate.

  • The book is accompanied by a dynamic collection of instructor and student resources, including the PowerLecture DVD, which reinforces the book's outstanding art program. PowerLecture includes all art and photos from book, in stepped and zoom form, plus videos, active figures, blank maps, instructor's manual and test bank, as well as a guide to the Google Earth activities from the book. The book is also supplemented by Active Earth Collection resources and ABC videos. See SUPPLEMENTS section.

  • The book is well supported by the Geography Resource Center (see SUPPLEMENTS section.)

About the Author

James Petersen

James F. Petersen is Professor of Geography at Southwest Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas. He is a broadly trained physical geographer with strong interests in geomorphology and Earth Science education. He enjoys writing about topics relating to physical geography for the public, particularly environmental interpretation, and has written a landform guidebook for Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Central Texas, as well as several field guides. He is a strong supporter of geographic education, having served as president of the National Council for Geographic education in 2000 after more than 15 years of service to that organization. He also has written or served as a senior consultant for nationally published educational materials at levels from middle school through university, and he has done many workshops for geography teachers. Most recently, he co-edited a volume of the journal Geomorphology, a collection of papers dealing with education in geomorphology that represented the proceedings from the Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium. Two other recent works include the opening chapter for a book on the environmental history of San Antonio, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, and the role of field methods in geography education in the United States, for an international volume on the topic. He is the co-author of Essentials of Physical Geography, 8th Edition and Physical Geography, 9th Edition (both by Brooks/Cole.)

Dorothy Sack

Dorothy Sack, professor and department chair of geography at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, is a physical geographer who specializes in geomorphology. Her primary research interests emphasize arid region landforms, particularly the geomorphic evidence of paleolakes, which contribute to understanding Earth’s paleoclimate. Other research themes include the impact of off-road vehicles on the landscape and the history of geomorphology. Dr. Sack has published research in a variety of professional journals and academic volumes as well as within Utah Geological Survey publications. Her work has been funded by numerous professional groups, including the National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, American Association of Geographers (AAG) and American Chemical Society. She is active in professional organizations, having served as chair of both the Geomorphology and the History of Geography Specialty Groups of the AAG. She has also served in other offices for the AAG, Geological Society of America and History of Earth Sciences Society. In addition, she serves on the editorial boards for the journals Geomorphology and Physical Geography. Dr. Sack enjoys teaching as well as research and has received the Outstanding Teacher Award from Ohio University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Robert E. Gabler

Robert E. Gabler has nearly five decades of professional experience. He has taught for five years in public elementary and secondary schools, in addition to teaching geography at Hunter College, City of New York, Columbia University, and Western Illinois University. At times in his lengthy career at Western, he served as chairperson of the Department of Geography and Department of Geology, and University director of International Programs. He received three University Presidential Citations for Teaching Excellence and University Service, served two terms as chairperson of the Faculty Senate, edited the Bulletin of The Illinois Geographical Society, and authored numerous articles in state and national periodicals. He is a past president of the Illinois Geographical Society, former director of coordinators and past president of the National Council for Geographic Education, and the recipient of the NCGE George J. Miller Distinguished Service Award. During his tenure at Western, Dr. Gabler traveled widely throughout the United States, western and southern Europe, eastern Asia, and India, planning, organizing, and leading university exchange programs, conducting field research, and compiling extensive slide photograph files. His major publications include, editor: A HANDBOOK FOR GEOGRAPHY TEACHERS (Illinois Office of Public Instruction); co-author: FOLLETT ELEMENTARY SOCIAL STUDIES SERIES (Follett Publishing Company); senior author: INTRODUCTION TO PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY (Rinehart Press); and senior author: ESSENTIALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY.

Table of Contents

1. Physical Geography: Earth Environments and Systems.
2. Representations of Earth.
3. Solar Energy and Atmospheric Heating.
4. Atmospheric Pressure, Winds, and Circulation Patterns.
5. Humidity, Condensation, and Precipitation.
6. Air Masses and Weather Systems.
7. Climate Classification: Tropical, Arid, and Mesothermal Climate Regions.
8. Microthermal, Polar, and Highland Climate Regions: Climate Change.
9. Biogeography and Soils.
10. Earth Materials and Plate Tectonics.
11. Volcanic and Tectonic Processes and Landforms.
12. Weathering and Mass Wasting.
13. Water Resources and Karst Landforms.
14. Fluvial Processes and Landforms.
15. Arid Region Landforms and Eolian Systems.
16. Glacial Systems and Landforms.
17. Coastal Processes and Landforms.
Appendix A: SI Units.
Appendix B: Topographic Maps.
Appendix C: The Koppen Climate Classification System.
Appendix D: The 12 Soil Orders of the National Resource Conservation Service.
Appendix E: Understanding and Recognizing Some Common Rocks.

New to this edition

  • NEW - CourseMate platform includes a suite of online learning resources, including an interactive eBook, animations to help students visualize,quizzes, videos, flashcards, and more!
  • A New box feature, Understanding Map Content, enhances students' abilities to read and interpret information and relationships appearing on thematic maps.
  • A New box feature entitled Thinking Geographically provides students with a map or photo and encourages them to think critically about information learned in the chapter.