EdExcel AS/A2 Geography

Suggested resources:

Work schemes and associated powerpoints on tornadoes, tropical cyclones and extreme weather.

Another set of lesson resources on extreme weather in the UK and how these fit into the EdExcel specification.

Climate Change Updates for geography teachers.

Useful links for:

Extreme weather

Synoptic maps


Cold climates

Global Warming/ Climate Change

Climate Engineering


Tropical weather: hurricanes, el nino


Link to specification site, and the EdExcel GCE Geography Ning http://newedexcelgeog.ning.com/main/index/pending

Unit 1 Global Challenges

Enquiry question: Is global warming a recent short term phenomenon or should it be seen as part of longer-term climate change?

What students need to learn:

The current phenomenon of global warming should be set in the context of longer, medium and short term climate change. A range of evidence from ecology, historical records and climate change should be reviewed.
The causes of climate change may be both natural and human (anthropogenic).
Recent climate change (global warming) is unprecedented in historical terms and scientists now argue that human causes may be more to blame.

Suggested teaching and learning:

Researching the evidence of: longer-term, eg pollen analysis, ice cores, and past glacial/sea level change medium-term, eg historical records, tree rings and retreating glaciers recent, eg scientific research from weather, ocean, polar ice and ecosystem changes.
Exploring the role of variations in earth orbit, solar output, cosmic collision and volcanic emissions, as well as enhanced greenhouse gas emissions.
Assessing whether global warming is something unique or just a medium-term trend in the longer term pattern of climate variations.

Enquiry question: What are the impacts of climate change and why should we be concerned?

What students need to learn

The direct impacts of projected global climate changes:
a case study of environmental and ecological impacts of Arctic warming in the Arctic region
a case study of the complexities of economic impacts across the African continent and how it could lead to disasters for poor people.
The indirect impacts such as the eustatic rise in sea level (global inundation).
The impacts of climate change are difficult to predict and emissions scenarios, such as the IPCC model, may vary (from ‘business as usual’ to sustainable) and could be affected by attempts to manage the impacts of climate change.
The evidence that combined impacts could lead to catastrophic, irreversible changes and contribute to a more hazardous world.

Suggested teaching and learning:

Developing an awareness of the direct impacts of global warming through case studies of vulnerable places to understand the resulting environmental, ecological and economic impacts.
Investigating how sea level rise may have a disproportionately bigger effect on some countries using examples such as the South Sea islands or Bangladesh (the disaster scenario).
Researching the value of different scenarios and models in predicting future trends such as rising sea levels.
Exploring the concept of a ‘tipping point’.

Enquiry question: What are the strategies for dealing with climate change?

What students need to learn

How strategies: attempt to limit the impacts of climate change at various scales involve adapting to climate change.
The conflicting views and role of the key players in managing climate change – including governments, business, NGOs, individuals and groups. The complexities of a global agreement.
Whilst most people argue for ‘act local, think global’, management is needed at all scales and progress is likely to be incremental.

Suggested teaching and learning

Weighing up mitigation strategies and adaptation strategies using a range of examples of each.
Developing an awareness of: the complexities of a global agreement such as the Kyoto protocol and its implications for specific countries national and small-scale strategies for limiting climate change the contributions of individuals to help reduce the impacts of climate change, eg carbon footprints.

Unit 2 Geographical Investigations

Extreme weather includes a range of phenomena that involve extremes of temperature, precipitation, wind and atmospheric pressure. They in turn develop from a variety of meteorological conditions. This topic looks at how extreme weather events lead to immediate, subsequent and longer term hazards. Storms, river floods and drought clearly illustrate the environmental, social and economic impacts of extreme weather – impacts that are closely related to the type of hazard involved and the economic situation of those affected. Risks from extreme weather, such as flooding, are increasing and much of this is our fault. If extreme weather conditions are becoming more frequent and more severe, then tougher, fairer and more intelligent decisions will need to be taken in both the short and longer term.  Fieldwork opportunities include a weather log, flood impacts survey, flood/drought risk assessments and flood management assessments. Research work could relate to weather records, satellite images, hurricane data, and use of statistics for flood/ drought events as well as evaluations of various management strategies.

Enquiry question: What are extreme weather conditions and how and why do they lead to extreme weather events?

What students need to learn

There is a wide variety of extreme (severe or unexpected) weather phenomena.
Fieldwork and research, using a weather diary and synoptic maps, into meteorological conditions (air masses, pressure systems and fronts) which can influence changes in temperatures, precipitation and winds. These lead to contrasting weather events such as the development of a depression or seasonal anticyclones.
Contrasting examples of how extreme weather conditions develop such as hurricanes, snow and ice, and drought.

Suggested teaching and learning

Defining and examining the nature and distribution of different types of extreme weather, such as tropical cyclones, temperate storms, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, winter weather, heat waves, fires, and drought.
Using primary and secondary sources to monitor and understand how differing weather patterns relate to underlying meteorological conditions.
Researching meteorological processes such as a hurricane sequence, UK or USA winter conditions and an extended drought.

Enquiry question: What are the impacts of extreme weather on people, the economy and the environment?

What students need to learn

An extreme weather hazard can have different impacts depending on the severity of the event, a location’s level of economic development and the vulnerability of those affected.
Fieldwork and research into the social, economic and environmental impacts of extreme weather created by: an immediate disastrous weather event – such as a tornado or hurricane, a subsequent additional hazard – such as localised river flooding, a longer-term trend or condition – such as a heat wave or drought.

Suggested teaching and learning

Researching how the impacts of extreme weather vary in intensity and in different parts of the world. 
Using primary and secondary sources to investigate impacts on homes, business, health, lives, infrastructure, production and habitats.
Examining specific examples of the impacts of extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Mitch, a localised flood event and drought in New South Wales as well as examples relating to similar current events.

Enquiry question: How are people and places increasingly at risk from and vulnerable to extreme weather?

What students need to learn

Evidence that extreme weather hazards in the UK and elsewhere are becoming more frequent and involve higher risk due to natural and human causes such as climate change, demographics and land management.
Fieldwork and research to investigate how a small stream or part of a river catchment can suffer increased flood risks resulting from: meteorological causes the physical characteristics of the area growing urbanisation, land use change and attempts at management.

Suggested teaching and learning

Investigating how the increased incidence and risk of weather hazards is affected by climate change, global warming, population growth along rivers and coastlines, and poor management of land.
Using primary and secondary sources to investigate and analyse a range of causes of increased flood risks at a local scale such as in Carlisle or Uckfield, including for example: heavy/prolonged precipitation or snow melt geology, vegetation and slopes land use and management.

Enquiry question: How can we best respond to and cope with the impacts of extreme weather?

What students need to learn

Fieldwork and research into ways of managing and responding to extreme weather events using short- and longer-term strategies, and how some management strategies are more successful than others.
The role of new technology in improving community preparedness, event forecasting and reducing impacts of disasters.
Ways to manage drought through physical, social, economic and political responses in contrasting areas.

Suggested teaching and learning

Using primary and secondary sources to investigate strategies such as USA hurricane warning, Environment Agency flood protection and risk assessments at a local scale, eg York.
Researching the role of technology and its application to extreme weather management such as forecasting (NOAA), flood monitoring or the use of drought resistant crops.
Assessing sustainable longer-term solutions for tackling drought such as water management and adapting farming techniques as in south east England or Ethiopia.

Unit 3 Contested Planet

Enquiry question: What is the geography of water supply and demand?

What students need to learn

Water supply is controlled by physical factors, such as climate, geology and surface processes; supply can be from surface or groundwater sources; fresh water supply is a finite resource.

Suggested teaching and learning

Investigating the world’s global fresh water supply, and developing an understanding of its link to climate zones, river systems and subsurface geology in terms of aquifers.

Enquiry question: What are the climatic processes that cause cold environments and what environmental conditions result from these?

What students need to learn

The climatic causes of cold environments, eg global atmospheric circulation, Polar anticyclones, the influence of latitude and altitude upon climate, day/night, seasons etc.
Long-term global climate change leads to changes in the distribution of cold environments.
The meteorological processes associated with cold climates in different types of cold environment, including extremes of temperature, winds and the nature of precipitation.

Suggested teaching and learning

Researching the varying climatic causes of cold environments in contrasting locations. 
Weighing up past, present and future changes in global climate and how these affect cold environments.
Investigating the significance of precipitation and wind, as well as temperature, in contributing to the distinctive features of cold climates.