Physical Geography and Environment
Cod: 31025
Department: DCSG
Scientific area: Geography
Total working hours: 156
Total contact time: 15

The first part of this course unit defines the object of study of physical geography and shows the diversity of studies within this field of geography. Students are expected to acquire the essential basic concepts of climatology, geomorphology, biogeography and oceanography (the fields of physical geography presented in this first part of the course), which will later be used in subsequent themes. The course will also aim to divide the world and Portugal in terms of physical geography, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the tools used by the geographer, namely, statistical data, cartographic, graphical and photographic material.
In the second part, the course unit discusses four environmental challenges, in accordance with the definition of ‘environment’ put forth in the first part of the course: global warming, deforestation, desertification, and the energy challenge. For these various different challenges, the course unit will raise the questions and certainties we currently have about their causes and reflect upon the visible consequences in the present and those yet to come. Whenever possible, the consequences of these environmental challenges for the territory of continental Portugal and for the economic activities developed there will be analysed.

  1. Physic Geography
  2. Environment
  3. Environmental problems
  4. Environmental impact of human activities

• Acquiring skills on the interactive dynamics of the various environmental components that physical geography studies;
• Understanding some of the environmental problems which today affect our planet.

Geography in an environmental context
What is physical geography (climatology, geomorphology, biogeography, climatology); what is the environment (systemic conception and the concept of environment; physical geography and the ‘Lei de Bases do Ambiente’)
Environmental challenges: a geographical view
Examples of biophysical change: global warming, causes and consequences (the role of mankind and the purification systems on earth; consequences of global warming); examples of biophysical changes in the use of land; deforestation (the forest and the chemical equilibrium of the atmosphere; the forest and biodiversity; the forest and soil protection); examples of biophysical change: desertification (the concept of desertification; soil loss; soil salination; pollution and soil contamination); the energy challenge (sources of energy and their impact; renewable energies; solar power; wind power; wave and tidal power; geothermal and bioenergy power, hydroelectric power; renewable energies in Portugal).

Pereira, A. R. (Coord); Trindade, J. (2002) – Geografia Física e Ambiente. Universidade Aberta, Lisboa 162p. ISBN: 972-674-382-6.

Online learning with continuous supervision favoring asynchronous communication (Moodle platform).
Students have to perform the tasks requested by the teacher: essays, critical recensions, reports, protocols, etc. All works will be evaluated and/or classified.

Continuous assessment is privileged: 2 or 3 digital written documents (e-folios) during the semester (40%) and a presence-based final exam (p-folio) in the end of the semester (60%). In due time, students can alternatively choose to perform one final presence-based exam (100%).