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Adapting to change – UK policy towards the Arctic

Learning objectives

  • To learn more about the UK’s Policy Framework and the UK’s interest in the Arctic.
  • To show how the UK will work with the Arctic States and the wider international community.
  • To identify the expertise that the UK can offer to help meet some of the long-term challenges facing the region. Many of these challenges have already been identified in other sections of the site.

Pole position

The flags and names on the download could be cut into cards to match them up, with pupils working either in groups or on their own.

All the statements are true.

Cool Running

An overview – Activity

The section introduces the limits of the Arctic region and the complexity of defining these limits.

All of the definitions are correct!

Climate change will alter the temperature and vegetation limits, pushing the boundary of the Arctic Region by these definitions further north.

Western Europe is not in the 50 degree north boundary because the warm North Atlantic Drift keeps the western coast of Europe warm.

Activity: Students could work in groups, each taking one section of the website to list the links between the Arctic and the UK and vice versa.

Science: Students could use the links on the Serious Science section to discover the wealth of scientific activity in the Arctic.

The human dimension

Students should be encouraged to look elsewhere on the site for evidence of examples of the UK’s involvement in Arctic Council Working Group activities.

The environmental dimension

Students should look at sections such as ‘Hunter or Hunted’ to research the fragility of the Arctic ecosystem.

The commercial dimension

Students should look at the sections about shipping, tourism and resources to research the commercial aspects of the Arctic.

There are different types of shipping in the Arctic, for example fishing, tourist cruises, supporting the oil and gas activity and trans-Arctic trade routes. All could potentially be affected by the changes below.

Changes caused by greater access to shipping include:

  • Shorter travelling distances between Europe and Asia
  • Increased shipping traffic, particularly in the summer months.
  • Ice-free Arctic sea routes could be quicker and cheaper than traditional routes round the Cape of Good Hope or the Suez Canal.
  • Navigation in Arctic latitudes is hazardous because of poor weather conditions, lack of good charts and lack of Search and Rescue facilities.
  • Cold weather can reduce the effectiveness of components of the ship.
  • Icing increases the load on the hull and engines of the ship.

Some of these changes could be seen as advantages and some as disadvantages. Students could discuss which are which.

Types of tourism include:

  • Visiting Santa
  • Adventure tourism, climbing or kayaking
  • Whale watching
  • Polar bear watching
  • Cruising
  • Reindeer safaris
  • Dog-sled tours
  • Wilderness camping
  • Wildlife watching

Polar pitstop

This is a group activity which encourages students to explore the areas of scientific research and rank their importance in terms of mitigating the effects of climate change on different aspects of the planet. It should be noted that there are no ‘correct answers’ for this activity and the perceived importance of each area of science is very subjective when compared to others. Whole class discussion enables the students to discuss their perceptions and opinions and reasons for their choices. The teacher should try to balance each argument with the alternative view point as to what is important for the students and the planet.

Teachers' notes

Notes on each chapter for information and tips on the activities in each section to help you plan how to use the site:


Home | 1: Climate change | 2: Living on the edge | 3: Arctic science | 4: Hunter or hunted? | 5: Postcard from the edge | 6: Troubled waters | 7: Resources from the edge | 8: Arctic Circumpolar Governance | 9: Snow, water, ice, permafrost | 10: Adapting to change

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