GPH 111: Introduction to Physical Geography

TTH  9:15-10:30 (Randy Cerveny's class):  Fall, 2004

Significance of this class (or why the heck are you taking GPH 111?)



Cerveny's 2004 Complete Official Authorized GPH 111 Study Guide , Now With Answers & more Questions




(Begin commercial.  We see two students sitting in SCOB  210 on Tuesday, or it is a Thursday morning between 9:15 and 10:30 with notebooks and pencils ready to take notes.  As the professor, Randy Cerveny, shuffles through his notes about ready to begin the lecture ...)


Student #1 (turning to her friend): So why are you in this class?

Student #2 (tossing a "what? Are you stupid" look to her friend):  For my science credit, of course.

Student #1:  Really?  That's what my friend said last semester when he started this course but he told me that he actually learned quite a bit of important, interesting stuff.

Student #2:  Such as?

Student #1:  Well, I guess this guy will talk about things like: How does our current drought and big fires go together?  How does the weather on Mars differ from the weather on Earth?  Should we plan for a "greenhouse" effect to cause droughts and famines?  Or will there be a new ice age?  What makes the Northwest US volcanoes different from Hawaiian volcanoes?  What do you have to do to save yourself during a hurricane or tornado?  That kind of stuff.

Student #2:  Hey, that's environmental stuff.  I've heard about that stuff on TV and in the newspapers!  Isn't our environment suppose to be falling apart or something?

Student  #1:  Well, I figure that's why this course might be worthwhile.  My friend said that he thinks that he learned stuff last semester in this course that he'll use the rest of his life!  In fact, he says that because GPH 111 is an introductory level course, he is now going to take more advanced courses like GPH 210 (Physical Environment), GPH 211 (Introduction to Landforms) [AN L1 CLASS!] and GPH 212 (Introduction to Meteorology) and lab [S2 Science Credit!].  He may even switch his major to geography!

Student #2:  Gee ... maybe this class will be more than just getting science credit!  Oh, we better quiet down.  Looks like the professor is about to start ...


What's the Course Structure?

The course consists of lectures supplemented by textbook readings and supported by weekly laboratory exercises that include field work.  The textbook and laboratory manual REQUIRED for this course are: (1) Geosystems by Robert W. Christopherson.  Prentice-Hall and for the laboratory (2) the latest edition of Introductory Physical Geography Laboratory Manual.  American Heritage Press.  Also recommended (particularly if you don't know world place names) is any recent edition of Goode's World Atlas.  Finally, an OPTIONAL handout, "Cerveny's 2004 Complete Official Authorized GPH 111 Study Guide , Now With Answers & more Questions", which is a set of review questions, is available at the Copy Service in Noble Science Library (the building just north of us).  The guide will likely cost a buck or so.


Sorry, my lecture notes are not available until one week before the test—past classes, in no uncertain words, have told me in final class evaluations that they believe making notes available would encourage people to miss class.  Also – I have several opportunities during the semester for IN-CLASS BONUS POINTS – but only to those people in class that particular day!  The solution for you?  COME TO CLASS and take good notes (isn't that part of what college is about, anyway?).  Hey, I even will give you an outline in class of everything we talk about (and that will be on the test!).


"Oh, come on, I heard all that before.  Does coming to class really make a difference?"  Yes, in the last 8 years I have taught this class, I have found, almost without exception the people who fail this class are people who do not come to class.  If statistics from past classes hold true, that means 15% of you will fail this class (about 35 people) this semester.  Come to class if you want to pass.  Dates to remember:  Unrestricted Withdraw (meaning that I don't have to sign that you are passing the course):  September 19.  Restricted Withdraw  (yes, I have to sign that you are passing the course):  October 31.


By the way:  PLEASE NO CELLPHONES!!! (I get VERY grouchy when a cellphone goes off in class!)


Course Personnel

Course Director (gives lectures, coordinates course activities, sets course policy and is responsible for course management):  Randy Cerveny.  I will be available by appointment using the signup sheet outside my office.  My office is SCOB 144.  However, in most cases your initial interaction should be with your Laboratory Instructors who teach the laboratory, assist in lectures, and compute initial laboratory grades.



Line Number

Laboratory Instructors

Lab Class Time




M 8:40-11:30




M 11:40-2:30




W 8:40-11:30




W 11:40-2:30




F 8:40-11:40




F 11:40-2:30

My email is:

The course homepage (with great links to stuff we talk about in class) is:


The Grades

In GPH 111, your performance is measured by means of tests and laboratory assignments.  No extra credit is given.  80% to 90% of test material is derived from my lectures with additional questions obtained from the readings.  All examinations are objective in nature:  true/false; multiple choice, matching.  The questions tend to be conceptual rather than rote repetition.  That means you need to know the material not just memorize it.  The relative weights of scores used to calculate your final grade will be as follows:



First Examination



Second Examination



Third (Final) Examination



Laboratory Grade *



*Attendance at laboratory sections is REQUIRED of all students and students must pass the laboratory portion of this class to pass.  Attendance is an absolute necessity to pass this class:  if you miss class, expect to fail.  The last examination is partly comprehensive.  Note that exams are weighted so that the 3rd exam is worth much more than 1st exam.  Generally, the first two tests are harder than the last one.  Late tests are given only on approval of instructor and are short-answer (and much harder than original).  In the past, grades usually have followed a curve that has 15% A, 25% B, 35%C, 15% D and 10% will fail but, there is no set curve.

Rough Course Outline (exact dates to be given in class:  you must attend class to get them!)


Aug 23-27  (week 1)    Lecture topic:  Maps, evolution of earth; earth-sun relationships, Readings:  Chapters 1-2


Aug 30- Sep 3   (week 2)            Lecture topic:  Energy Transfer, Readings:  Chapters 2-3


Sep 7-10   (week 3)     Lecture topic:  Energy Balances, Readings: Chapter 3


Sep 15-19  (week 4)     Lecture topic:  General Atmospheric & Oceanic Circulation, Readings:  Chapters 5-6 (Sept 19 END OF UNRESTRICTED WITHDRAWAL)


Sep 20-24  (week 5)     Lecture topic:  Moisture and Precipitation; EXAMINATION 1, Readings:  Chapter 7 (Exam 1 probably on or near September 23, 2000)


Sep 27-Oct 1  (week 6)   Lecture topic:  Lightning/Tornadoes/Hurricanes, Chapters 8


Oct 4-17  (week 7)      Lecture topic:  Tornadoes/Hurricanes/Climate, Readings:  Chapters 8, pp. 309-316


Oct 11-15  (week 8)     Lecture topic:  Climatic Change, Readings:  309-316


Oct 18-22  (week 9)     Lecture topic:  EXAMINATION 2, Lithosphere & Continental Drift, Chapters 11-12 (Exam 2 on or near Oct 23, 2000)


Oct 25-28 (week 10) Lecture topic:  Volcanoes/Weathering/Faulting, Readings: Chapters 12-13 (October 31 is the END OF RESTRICTED WITHDRAWAL)


Nov 1-4  (week 11)  Lecture topic:  Soils/Fluvial Geomorphology, Readings: Chapter 14


Nov 8-12 (week 12)     Lecture topic: Fluvial geomorphology/aeolian processes, Readings: Chapters 14-15


Nov 15-19  (week 13)  Lecture topic: Aeolian Processes/Coastal Geomorphology, Readings: Chapters 15-16


Nov 22-24  (week 14)  Lecture topic:  Glaciers (Alpine and Continental), Readings: Chapter 17


Nov 29- Dec 3  (week 15)           Lecture topic:  Glaciers/ Biogeography, Readings: Chapters 17-18


Dec 7 (week 16)          Lecture topic: Review / Evaluations



Final Examination:  Thursday December 9 (7:40-9:30 AM):  Please consider this when making all travel arrangements for the Winter Holiday!  No "Early" Exams will be given!