The Final exam primarily covers the areas of the hydrosphere, the biosphere and the lithosphere. As in the Midterm, special attention should be paid to the lecture notes and the PowerPoint files, as well as the Discussion Boards. These sections are dependent on the text and the laboratory exercises, but the discussions and the lecture notes are more conducive to explanation and understanding with a essay-driven format. Additionally, the animated PowerPoints are good at achieving an understanding of processes that are in motion, especially when looking at the lithosphere, giving them more of a 3-dimensional quality.
For this final essay exam you are required to answer all five (5) of the questions. Although there is no set word limit for these essay questions, you will be graded on your knowledge of the material and the detail with which you write your answers. You should take care to cite your sources in APA format and provide full references in a Works Cited list.
- Describe the paths of water through the hydrologic cycle. Explain the processes and the energy gains and losses involved in the changes of water between its 3 states. Operationally, we often most concerned with water does when it reaches the solid earth, both on the surface and in the sub-surface. Explain the relationship between the saturated zone, the water table, a ground water well and the cone of depression, all within the sub-surface.
- The food chain is a valuable concept in biogeography. Give an example of a specific food chain, labeling the various levels of the food chain. After looking at characteristics of food chains, explain how a geographer’s approach to the study of organisms might be different than biologist’s study of organisms; what would each try to emphasize more than the other? What exactly is a biome? Compare/contrast the concept of the biome with that of the zoogeographic region. Compare/contrast the floral characteristics of 2 of the following biomes: Desert, Tundra, Midlatitude Grassland and Boreal Forest.
- Theorize the difference in soil development in adjoining soils developed on forested, sloped area versus a grassed flat area. What are the soil-forming factors? Explain the importance of the nature of the parent material to soil formation and type. Then, cite at least 2 examples in which the influence of parent materials might be outweighed by other soil-forming factors. Explain the “struggle” between the internal and external processes in shaping the Earth’s surface. What are the different ways that the surface of the Earth is changed over time?
- Describe the general sequence of events in continental drift since the time of 5 separate continents 450 million years ago. What is the difference between the older continental drift theory by Wegener and the more recent plate tectonic theory? Plate tectonics theory explains many seemingly unrelated phenomena. Explain how the patterns of volcanoes and earthquakes related to plate tectonics. Explain several pieces of evidence that combine to make the theory of plate tectonics the one that is generally accepted.
- Provide a reason why some scientists believe the Pleistocene is over and a reason why other scientists believe we are now in an interglacial stage. Some believe, for example, that since areas of pack ice and glacial ice still exist we are still in an ice age. Others, on the other hand, seeing the rapid retreat of ice and snow pack in many areas, believes that this period of glaciation has ended. So, using some other justifications, why do we see some differences in interpretation? Is there some scientific data available that can support both sides view? If so, provide it. Why hasn’t this controversy been solved? What impact does this division of views have on the public policies that are enacted by state, national and international bodies?