The Physical Environment
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The Physical Environment
Distributed Atlas

Use the links below to obtain maps and other visualizations of Earth systems.

General Maps | Atmosphere | Hydrosphere | Biosphere| Lithosphere


Google Maps

Bing Maps


CIA World Reference Maps - CIA

- Physical maps of the world, world political map, time-zones.

National Geographic Map - National Geographic

- Maps of all kinds, as would be expected.

National Map - USGS

- online viewer for the National Map of the United States. Data layers include: elevation, geology, hydrography, land use/land cover, orthoimagery. Measure distances, find elevations and download products interactively.

- Title says it all.

World Gazetteer -ESRI

-  World Gazetteer provides a basemap layer that may be used to find locations by their proper name anywhere around the world. of a particular city.

The Atmosphere

National Weather Service - NOAA

- Current weather maps, radar and satellite images of all kinds.

The Earth's Radiation Energy Balance - Cooperative Institute of
           Meteorological Satellite Studies

- Planetary albedo, outgoing longwave radiation, net
   radiation, cloud-radiative forcing maps.

Global Climate Maps - FAO

- Annual rainfall, monthly temperature, sunshine, Koeppen

Interactive Climate Map (M. Ritter)

- Roll mouse over cities for climograph, click for information
  about climate.

The Hydrosphere

Groundwater Atlas of the United States - USGS

Map of the Oceans - Holt, Rinehart & Winston

Watersheds of the World - World Resources Institute

- Interactive map; land cover, population density, basin indicators, biodiversity indicators.


The Biosphere

Distribution maps of major soil orders in the United States - NRCS

World Forest Cover Maps - UNEP

North America Biomes map  

Potential Biomass - FAO

World Biomes map 

World Soil Resources Map Index - NRCS

- Global soil regions, biomes, soil moisture regimes, soil temperature, major land stresses, desertification, water & wind erosion, soil carbon, human-induced desertification, and more.


The Lithosphere

Active volcanoes - USGS

Landforms on Topographic Maps - Prof. Susan Clark Slaymaker

Major Tectonic Plates - USGS

Ring of Fire - USGS

Watersheds of the World - World Resources Institute



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Please contact the author for inquiries, permissions, corrections or other feedback.

For Citation: Ritter, Michael E. The Physical Environment: an Introduction to Physical Geography.
Date visited.

© 2003 - 2012 Michael Ritter (
Last revised 6/5/12

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