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Physical geography deals with factors and processes which shape natural landscapes at different scales of space and time. The aim of the program is to provide the students theoretical and quantitative knowledge, and qualification for advanced studies in physical geography. The program includes courses in climate, geomorphology, geology, soils, hydrology and ecology. Studies at the field sites and in the department labs are integral part of the program. Integrations with remote sensing and GIS tools are encouraged. A focus is given to the understanding of the impact of environmental changes (natural or anthropogenic) on landscape development.
 
Faculty members who are engaged in this research theme:
    The Geomorphology Laboratory 
    The geomorphology lab affords a working space for students. It houses glassware, coarse/fine sediment size analyses, sediment/soil physical (e.g., Atterberg limits, water content), ovens and chemical (e.g., TDS, EC, pH and chemical-photometer-determinations), as well as other equipment for graduate students and for the geomorphology lab class offered once every two years.
     
    Field Gear
    Field equipment includes a neutron probe for soil moisture determination, Zeiss level and a two electronic total stations (electronic theodolites), one reflector-less based on infra-red capability, and a sensitive metal detector for metal tracer studies. We also run a time domain reflectometer together with the Agrometeorolgy Unit and a frequency domain reflectometer, both of which are for measuring soil moisture using radar wavelength electromagnetic energy. We also have 13 corner reflectors for calibrating radar imagery collected from orbit, a low cost GPS system and a differential GPS system. The lab has field kits for the determination of water chemistry. We also have regular, high-end (Nikon 300D) and 2 video cameras and a suit of laptops. For infiltration we house a large double ring infiltrometer and a Gulelph infiltrometer. A host of additional physical laboratory equipment is housed in the soils and aeolian labs.
    The lab includes a dozen Grant and Campbell data loggers for automatic monitoring of fluvial processes,  a large number of water stage (depth) sensors including miniature "Divers", temperature sensors, high-end turbidity units and EC sensors, as well as plate and pipe geophones for continuous bedload monitoring. The data loggers have connections to the various sensors. Several automatic instruments include one (or more) sensor with in-built digital datalogger: tipping rain gages, Unidata Doppler-velocity (& stage - temperature) Starflow instruments, and a dozen automatic (ISCO, SIGMA, Liquiport) water samplers. The lab houses a surface roughness profiler (BGU GSS 1800) to acquire dense digital outputs describing surface roughness.
     
    Aeolian Simulation Laboratory
    The Aeolian Simulation Lab supports studies of sediment (dust and sand) transport by the wind. The lab houses experimental devices to measure processes in the lab and in the field. The stationary wind tunnel is used for theoretical and applied research as well as for instrument calibration using an anemometry system. It is the only boundary-layer wind tunnel for aeolian studies in Israel, with a capability of generating wind speed up to 25 m/sec. A portable wind tunnel is used for aeolian simulation of dust emissions from soils. The tunnel was designed and built in BGU. It equipped with advanced instruments to measure profiles of wind speeds, vertical and horizontal fluxes of sediments, concentrations of particulate matter (TSP, PM10, PM2.5, PM1). The aeolian greenhouse is used for simulation of topsoil properties (texture, roughness, crusts, vegetation) related to dust emission experiments. The greenhouse is equipped with irrigation and climate-controlled systems. Environmental monitoring station located on the lab roof provides real-time data on meteorological parameters (wind speed, wind direction, pressure, air temperature, solar radiation, and more) and atmospheric dust (high and low volume samplers, settled-dust collectors, PM10 and PM2.5).
     
    Soil and Dust Laboratory
    The Soil and Dust Lab supports research and education and provides analytical services. The lab focused on the analyses of physical and chemical properties of soil, aeolian dust, and various sediments. The lab houses advanced instruments to measure particle size distribution, particle aggregation, shear strength, bulk density, EC, pH, water content, infiltration and hydraulic conductivity, organic carbon, calcium carbonate, CEC, ion concentrations, and more. Research collaborations in the lab include engineering, geology, life sciences, archeology, and medicine.
     
    Field Stations
    Research is undertaken by our faculty and students on a variety of topics, and it is located to a large extent in the Negev. Given this concentration in the Negev, our research has spread not only to other parts of Israel, but has also been undertaken in other countries, typically in conjunction with one or more foreign investigators. The experimental research often requires the establishment of field stations, some of which run for a season or a year, others remaining operative for more than a decade.
    Our department has housed a number of field stations totally based on outside funded research. Previous sites include various geographical settings such as the Nizzanna and Ashdod dune fields and the Herzlia beach. Each field station offers undergraduates and graduates to learn novel-monitoring techniques required for the study of earth surface processes. These, coupled with analytical tools in the natural sciences, allow students to take part in modern research approaches involving various skills. At present we operate the following field stations:
     
    1. Agrometeorological Mashash Farm: In addition to the agrometeorologic instrumentation mentioned above, it includes recording runoff measuring devices (tipping buckets and flumes) on a large number of plots with areas that range from 300 to 30.000 m2. It also has an Agroforestry plot with 200 neutron probe access tubes to a depth of 6 m and 60 minirhizotron tubes to 3 m.
    2. Avdat Farm: standard meteorological station, eight instrumented flumes for runoff monitoring in sub-catchments of different size and slope, 24 50m2 plots with access tubes for neutron probe and transparent tubes for minirhizotron installed, tractor and agricultural implements.
    3. A fluvial triple-station in the semiarid setting of Eshtemoa Wash to study aspects of sediment transport and surface water dynamics. This station and the next are amongst the few worldwide that operate automatic bedload sampling, these in extremely harsh environments.
    4. A fluvial double station on the Rahaf-Kanaim Washes close to the Dead Sea to study sediment and water transport, including three reservoir resurveys.
    5. A fluvial station on the Arava Wash/Idan Reservoir involving a full, most modern hydrometric station on the largest river in Israel and wells to study reservoir siltation and water discharges in the Arava Rift Valley;
    6. A reservoir station involving Parshall flumes, evaporation pans, siltation resurveys and wells to study water use in an extreme arid environment (Eshet Reservoir, central Arava);
    7. Altogether 3 Doppler velocity-based hydrometric stations in the large, arid Paran Wash to study water losses;
    8. A suit of 4 washes in the arid Arava Rift Valley to monitor and study the stratification of fluvial gravel