Physical Geography Lab Manual: The Atmosphere and Biosphere


Dr. Michael Pidwirny, Associate Professor
Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences
Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science
University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
Science Building, 1177 Research Road 
Kelowna, British Columbia

Michael Pidwirny can be contacted at the following email address –



This lab manual is intended as an experiential learning companion to introductory university textbooks covering the subject area known as physical geography. It contains exercises dealing with the atmosphere and biosphere. A second companion physical geography lab manual, with exercises dealing with the hydrosphere and lithosphere, is planned to be released in the summer of 2023.


The laboratory exercises in this manual have been designed to engage students with activities that promote analytical problem-solving, critical thinking, and active learning through the analysis and interpretation of data. Many questions access data from actual scientific sources on the internet, enhancing the hands-on laboratory experience for students. The exercises have been carefully designed to augment important theoretical topics usually found in the curriculum of a first-year university course in physical geography.


Instructors using this laboratory manual are allowed to modify the question sets. To do this please contact me at my email address so I can create an editable clone of this laboratory manual for your specific classroom needs. Someone editing the question set of a laboratory exercise automatically becomes a co-author but the work must remain licensed as CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Instructors are also welcome to use only part of the exercises available here in their own manual as long as they maintain the copyright license to the work. To get access to the content and code for these exercises please contact me.




Laboratory 1: Earth-Sun Relationships and Insolation Receipt  (Chapters 3 and 4)


Laboratory 2: Heat and Temperature in the Atmosphere (Chapters 5 and 6)


Laboratory 3: Atmosphere Composition, Pressure, and Circulation (Chapters 5 and 7)


Laboratory 4: Mid-Latitude Cyclones, Weather Maps, and Forecasting (Chapter 8)


Laboratory 5: Classification of Global Climates (Chapter 9)


Laboratory 6: Climate Change – Part 1 (Chapters 9 and 10)


Laboratory 7: Climate Change – Part 2 (Chapters 9 and 10)


Laboratory 8: Atmospheric Moisture and Precipitation (Chapter 12)


Laboratory 9: Climate and the Distribution of Biomes and Soils (Chapter 27)


Laboratory 10: Plant Productivity (Chapter 27 and 28)

New Labs I’m Working On

Laboratory 11: Tropical Weather and Hurricanes (Chapter 8)


Laboratory 12: El Niño, La Niña, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (Chapter 14)


Contents in brackets show corresponding chapters in my eBook Understanding Physical Geography which is available on Google Play and Top Hat.


Updated May 8, 2021


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Physical Geography Lab Manual: The Atmosphere and Biosphere Copyright © 2021 by Michael Pidwirny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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