Environmental analysis is the study of the natural world. Faculty members in the Department of Geographic and Environmental Sciences study various aspects of the Earth system, including the geosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air), and biosphere (life), as well as the many complex interactions that link these systems. A vast array of tools and techniques are utilized to perform spatial and temporal analysis, from GIS and remote sensing to environmental modeling and traditional fieldwork.
Studies of the physical Earth system involve topics such as atmospheric science, hydrology, and natural hazards. This research involves not only the physical mechanisms responsible for various processes and phenomena, but also their spatial distribution, natural variability, as well as their impact on society. The physical environment has also long been shaped by the human societies that are embedded within it. Environmental geographers research topics that cover a wide range of these interactions, including human-induced climate change, land cover change, the urban heat island effect, natural resource use and sustainability, environmental adaptation and mitigation strategies and policies.