These resources are designed to be used in one session with year 6 (10/ 11 year old) students. Although they will support numeracy, literacy and various other aspects of the curriculum, they are designed to prepare students for secondary school rather than support the year 6 curriculum.
There are 6 suggested activities. Although they are designed to be run sequentially, you may choose to use only some of the activities, or to supplement them with your own ideas. It should be possible to use these activities with any class size.
Many people, including Ellie Highwood, Cristina Charlton-Perez, Helen Johnson and Laila Gohar, have contributed to these resources.
More than 20,000 people died after a record-breaking heatwave left Europe sweltering in August 2003. The period of extreme heat is thought to be the warmest for up to 500 years, and many European countries experienced their highest temperatures on record.
Low river flows and lake levels The River Danube in Serbia fell to its lowest level in 100 years. Bombs and tanks from World War 2, which had been submerged under water for decades, where revealed, causing a danger to people swimming in the rivers. Reservoirs and rivers used for public water supply and hydro-electric schemes either dried up or ran extremely low.
Forest fires The lack of rainfall meant very dry conditions occurred over much of Europe. Forest fires broke out in many countries. In Portugal 215,000 hectares area of forest were destroyed. This is an area the same size as Luxembourg. It is estimated millions of tonnes of topsoil were eroded in the year after the fires as the protection of the forest cover was removed. This made river water quality poor when the ash and soil washed into rivers.
The satellite image shown in Fig. 1 shows forest fires in southern Portugal and Spain in September 2003. The fires are shown by the red dots and smoke is in white.
Melting glaciers Extreme snow and glacier-melt in the European Alps led to increased rock and ice falls in the mountains.
Effects of the heatwave
About 15,000 people died due to the heat in France, which led to a shortage of space to store dead bodies in mortuaries. Temporary mortuaries were set up in refrigeration lorries. There were also heat-related deaths in the UK (2,000), Portugal (2,100), Italy (3,100), Holland (1,500) and Germany (300).
Heat-stroke — normally we sweat, and this keeps us cool on hot days. On very hot days our bodies may not be able to keep cool enough by sweating alone, and our core body temperature may rise. This can lead to headaches, dizziness and even death.
Dehydration — this is the loss of water from our bodies. It can cause tiredness and problems with breathing and heart rates.
Sunburn — damage to the skin which can be painful and may increase the risks of getting skin cancer.
Air pollution — it is thought that one third of the deaths caused by the heatwave in the UK were caused by poor air quality.
Drowning — some people drowned when trying to cool off in rivers and lakes.
The Met Office provides the Department of Health with heatwave warnings (Heat-Health Watch) to prepare the NHS, health professionals, carers and the general public for the effects of extreme heat.
Summers as hot as 2003 could happen every other year by the year 2050 as a result of climate change due to human activities.
Environment and social effects
Water supplies — drinking water supplies were affected in some parts of the UK and hosepipe bans introduced.
Tourism — many parts of the UK reported increased levels of tourism as people decided to holiday in the UK while the weather was unusually dry and hot.
Agriculture — many chickens, pigs and cows died during the heat in Europe and crops failed in the dry conditions. This led to higher food prices. It is thought to have cost European farming 13.1 billion euros.
Transport — some railway tracks buckled in the heat. The London Underground became unbearable. Some road surfaces melted. Low river levels prevented some boats from sailing.
The London Eye closed on one day as it became too hot in the cabins.
Energy — two nuclear power plants to close down in Germany. These rely on water for cooling in the power generation process.
Immediate responses to the heatwave
France requested aid from the European Union to deal with the effects.
Public water supply shortages occurred in several countries, including the UK and Croatia, which led to a temporary ban on using hose pipes.
TV news, internet and newspapers informed the public on how to cope with the heat — drinking plenty of water, wearing cool clothing, and staying in the shade in the middle of the day.
Network Rail in the UK imposed speed restrictions for trains when the temperature was above 30 °C. This was to help avoid trains derailing when railway lines might have buckled
Workers around Europe altered their working hours. Some refuse collectors started earlier to pick up rapidly decomposing rubbish from the streets.
What happened to cause the heatwave?
It shows an area of high pressure over most of Western Europe. Air is moving around the high in a clockwise direction, bringing a hot, dry tropical continental air mass to the UK at this time. This pattern occurred for much of the rest of the month. High pressure areas usually bring little cloud and warm conditions in summer.
You can find out more about weather charts in the weather section of the Met Office website.
Satellite imagery The satellite images below confirm there is very little cloud over most of Europe.
Fig. 3 shows a visible satellite image of north-west Europe at 2 p.m. on 5 August. Visible satellites show what you would see if you were in space looking down at Earth. White areas show were there is cloud, the brighter the shading the deeper the cloud. The dark areas show cloud free areas. On Figure 12, the darker areas over most of Europe show the area has thin or little cloud.
Fig. 4 shows an infrared satellite image for north-west Europe at 2 p.m. on 5 August. Infrared satellite images measure the temperature of the cloud or ground surface. The dark areas show surfaces that are warm and where there is no cloud. The whiter shading indicates cold cloud. The darker the shading of the land, the hotter it is.
Maximum temperatures Many parts of Europe saw their temperature records broken during this summer, including the UK. A sweltering 39 °C was recorded in Brogdale in Kent on 10 August 2003, a record high which still stands today.
European rainfall Rainfall over much of Europe was below what is normally expected during the months of June, July and August. The long-lasting high pressure system tended to reduce the amount of rain that fell.
As a result of the European heatwave:
A joint Met Office/Department of Health project called the Heat-Health Watch now gives advanced warning of UK hot. weather. It operates every summer from 1 June to 15 September.
The French government has made efforts to improve its prevention, surveillance and alert system for people such as the elderly living alone.
Depression based exercise where students draw contours of temperature, pressure and precipitation to work out what the system looks like: Student worksheets and notes for teachers. Simpler versions of the same exercise can be found on the KS3/4 web pages.
It was reported in The Times newspaper on 15 April 1986 that a hailstorm lashing Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, had killed nearly 50 people and injured more than 400. The storm had brought winds of about 60 mph and hailstones weighing up to 2 lb (nearly 1 kg). Houses had been flattened, communications disrupted and the windscreens of more than 700 cars shattered. In such conditions, an umbrella was no use whatsoever; even a riot shield may not have provided adequate protection! According to Dick File, in Weather Facts (Oxford University Press, 1991), this storm (which struck on 14 April 1986) killed 92 people and produced hailstones that weighed 1.02 kg.
The heaviest hailstones to fall on the United Kingdom did so at Horsham, West Sussex, on 5 September 1958 and weighed 140 g. They were almost the size of a tennis ball. When they hit the ground, they were travelling at speeds in excess of 100 mph (50 m/s). If you find this surprising, do a little calculation, using the formula: V2 = u2 + 2as where u is the initial speed, v the terminal speed, a the acceleration (in this case, due to gravity) and s the distance travelled. For a hailstone falling from a height of 500 m through still air, v = 100 m/s! The impact of a missile the size of a tennis ball travelling this fast is much more serious than that of a cricket ball hit for six.
Should you ever get the chance, collect some large hailstones and cut them in half. You may find a layered structure, with alternate layers of clear and opaque ice (as in the picture on the right, which shows a section of a hailstone viewed by transmitted light). The layers are acquired in different parts of the storm clouds. As hailstones fall, they collect tiny water droplets, which flow around them and freeze. If no air is trapped, the ice is clear.
The storm which struck the Wokingham area of Berkshire on 9 July 1959 produced hailstones more than 2.5 cm in diameter. This storm was studied in detail by Professor Frank Ludlam of Imperial College and his team of co-workers, who produced a striking three-dimensional model of the airflow with-in the storm and explained how large multi-layered hailstones may form in such weather systems.
In the diagram on the right, streamlines of air in which condensation occurred are shaded. The surface areas affected by rain and hail are shown by, respectively, grey and black shading. Heights are shown in thousands of feet. Precipitation formed in air which entered the storm near position H. As shown, the precipitation was carried across relative to the storm to around 13-15,000 feet, whereupon it fell and re-entered the strong updraught near posit-ion O. Some precipitation particles reached altitu-des of 30,000 feet or more and grew into large hail-stones before falling again, forward of the strong updraught, near position H’. The storm moved from left to right, with rain on its left flank and a squally ‘gust front’ (shown as a cold front) on its right flank. Behind the storm, chilled air reached the ground.
The diagram on the right shows a vertical section through a typical severe hailstorm (moving from right to left) and is also taken from Ludlam’s 1961 article in Weather. Compare this diagram with the three-dimensional model above
The paths of the air are drawn as if the storm was stationary. They are, therefore, relative streamlines. The dashed lines are trajectories of small hailstones. The thick full line shows the trajectory of a large hailstone.
To some extent, the features shown on this vertical section occur also in vigorous cumulo-nimbus systems which do not produce large hail. Students can look out for mamma, the udder-like cloud feature that hangs under the anvil and other parts of the cloud. How are mamma formed? Students can also observe gust fronts and measure the temperature drop that occurs when a storm passes. It is often several degrees Celsius. Perhaps, with the help of someone who has a car, they can map areas of rain and hail relative to moving storms.
In severe storms, downdraughts may be as strong as 30-40 m/s and reach the ground as ‘down-bursts’. These are dangerous, as the diagram above shows. Downbursts spread out near the ground. An aeroplane that flies into such an outflow first encounters an increasing head-wind (at 1 and 2), which adds to the speed of the speed of the air flowing over the aircraft’s wings and thus increases lift. At 3, however, the strength of the downdraught begins to reduce the altitude of the aircraft; and at 4 and 5 the aircraft experiences both a tail-wind (which reduces air speed and lift) and a downward force from the downdraught. Over the years, there have been many air disasters caused this way, especially in North America.
On 15 August 1952, the village of Lynmouth in North Devon was devastated by a torrent of water which poured off Exmoor; 34 people died. On 29 May 1920, in and around the Lincolnshire town of Louth, 22 people died when water from a storm over the Wolds caused the River Lud, normally a small stream, to rise 5 m above its normal level. In Dorset and Somerset, there have been similar occurrences; and in all cases, severe storms caused the havoc. When such storms occur in the British Isles, the wind in the upper troposphere is typically from the south-west, with the wind in the lower troposphere from a north-easterly point (and pressure low to the south and south-west). If this flow is lifted orographically, the storm may become stationary and deposit several inches of rain in a short time. Thus, it is places below slopes that face northwards or north-eastwards that are most at risk.
To frighten away the evil spirits that caused hail, primitive tribes used to shoot arrows into storm clouds; and Christians have tried to exorcise these spirits by ringing church bells (a dangerous practice because of lightning strikes on bell towers). Not only arrows, but also cannon-balls, artillery shells and rockets have been fired into storm clouds, but all to no avail. Though there is some evidence that cloud seeding may help to reduce the size of hailstones, there is nothing we can yet do to prevent the formation of severe storms.
Lesson overview: In this lesson we explore the structure, location and names for Tropical Cyclones as well as some of their potential impacts.
Tropical Cyclones are intense and extremely damaging storms. Fuelled by the transfer of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere they can grow into some of the most destructive weather systems on Earth. Tropical cyclones need specific conditions to form and intensify. These limit the locations in which Tropical Cyclones are able to form. Called Tropical Cyclones anywhere in the world, they are classified as Typhoons in the North-West Pacific and Hurricanes in the Atlantic and North-East Pacific. A Tropical Cyclone has a distinctive structure, consisting of a clear central ‘eye’, surrounded by extensive cloud bands that spiral outwards and may be hundreds of kilometres long. They can have severe impacts, causing coastal flooding and widespread damage to both the natural world and human infrastructure. As the climate changes, the most damaging Tropical Cyclones are expected to increase in intensity.
To understand what weather and hazards are associated with a Tropical Cyclone.
To be able to describe the structure of a Tropical Cyclone.
To be able to explain how and why Tropical Cyclones form.
The RMetS is delighted to have collaborated with CREATE Education to develop instructions to allow schools to 3D print sections of the Central England Temperature Record and use their models to learn about weather, climate, extreme weather and climate change.
These engaging, tactile resources allow students to get a hands-on experience of what climate is and how it can change, and how extreme weather relates to the climate.
The Central England Temperature (CET) data record is the longest instrument record of temperature in the world, with average monthly temperature each month from January 1659 to December 2018.
This project and the accompanying resources allow you to create 3D models that will represent 10 years of temperature data. The models have been designed to interlink, so students can create a series of models to represent larger timeframes. Once the 3D models have been created and 3D printed, there is a tactile resource that can be used in multiple ways in the classroom to visualise and study past weather and climate, and at how the climate of the UK has been changing over time.