Difference Between Physical And Human Geography


What Is Physical Geography?

Physical geography is the branch of geography that addresses the natural world. This includes mapping and studying landforms, geological processes affecting different areas, the distribution of ecosystems and the organisms within them, bodies of water, and issues of local climates and weather patterns. As the natural world involves a wide and diverse variety of topics for a physical geographer to study, it is often broken down into narrower specializations.

The six primary specializations are geomorphology, climatology, meteorology, hydrology, pedology, Glaciology, Palaeogeography, Coastal geography, Oceanogeography, Quaternary science, Landscape ecology, Geomatics, Environmental geography and biogeography.

  • Hydrology looks at the locations and movement of water on the surface of the Earth and below ground.
  • Quaternary science is an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on the Quaternary period, which encompasses the last 2.6 million years.
  • Oceanography is the branch of physical geography that studies the Earth’s oceans and seas. It covers a wide range of topics, including marine organisms and ecosystem dynamics (biological oceanography).
  • Pedology studies soils. It tends to focus on types of soils and their distribution, areas of soil erosion, and the regional causes of different soil types.
  • Biogeography studies the ecosystems of the planet and the distribution and migration of plant and animal species.
  • Geomatics is the field of gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic information, or spatially referenced information. 
  • Geomorphology studies landforms and the geologic processes affecting them.
  • Coastal geography is the study of the dynamic interface between the ocean and the land, incorporating both the physical geography (i.e. coastal geomorphology, geology, and oceanography) and the human geography of the coast.
  • Climatology in physical geography studies the climate, how it relates to specific areas, and climate change over time.
  • Meteorology, as a geographic specialization, studies and tracks atmospheric phenomena and changes as they occur.
  • Glaciology is the study of glaciers and ice sheets, or more commonly the cryosphere or ice and phenomena that involve ice. Glaciology groups the latter (ice sheets) as continental glaciers and the former (glaciers) as alpine glaciers.
  • Palaeogeography is a cross-disciplinary study that examines the preserved material in the stratigraphic record to determine the distribution of the continents through geologic time.
  • Landscape ecology is a sub-discipline of ecology and geography that address how spatial variation in the landscape affects ecological processes such as the distribution and flow of energy, materials, and individuals in the environment (which, in turn, may influence the distribution of landscape “elements” themselves such as hedgerows).
  • Environmental geography is a branch of geography that analyzes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world.

What Is Human Geography?

Human geography, as its name implies, focuses on geographic issues related to humans and human activity. This involves the distribution and location of humans on Earth, networks of human interaction across spatial distances, how humans conceptualize space into territories, and how they create places by attaching significance to areas.

There are more categories of specialization within human geography than physical geography, mainly due to human society and activity complexities. Some of the more significant specialties are cultural geography, political geography, economic geography, population geography, and transport geography.

  • Economic geography studies individual national economies, economic partnerships, regional economies, and trade between countries.
  • Population geography studies where humans make settlements, the distribution of populations, migration of people, and the distribution and arrangement of urban and rural communities.
  • Development geography is the study of the Earth’s geography with reference to the standard of living and the quality of life of its human inhabitants, study of the location, distribution and spatial organization of economic activities, across the Earth.
  • Cultural geography studies the distribution of cultural groups around the world, their migration and Diaspora, as well as aspects of culture that spread from one group to another.
  • Political geography studies the way governments create boundaries, arrange or organize power and governmental bodies within their territories, and interact with other nations.
  • Transport geography studies the ways and routes humans use to move around and to move goods around the world. Transport geographers create many of the road atlases we use.
  • Urban Geography studies cities, towns, and other areas of relatively dense settlement.
  • Settlement geography, including urban geography, is the study of urban and rural areas with specific regards to spatial, relational and theoretical aspects of settlement.

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Difference Between Physical And Human Geography In Tabular Form

Physical geography Looks at the Natural process of the Earth, such as climate and plate tectonics, wind movements etc Human geography looks at the impact and behavior of people and their implications in the physical world
Areas of Physical Geography include:





Areas  of Human Geography include:
Cultural geography

Political geography

Economic geography

Population geography

Transport geography

Urban Geography
Physical geography lays more emphasis on the ‘location’ aspect of the region it currently studies Human geography concentrates both a “location” and “people aspect as well.

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