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Climate change

Learning objectives

  • To understand the global nature of the world's climate system
  • To comprehend the interconnectedness of cause and effect between places
  • To appreciate the effect of climate change on the Arctic and the consequences of the change
  • To understand that there can be both positive and negative outcomes of climate change

Pole position

This interactive game brings together positive and negative results of climate change. Statements in the picture squares are as follows:

  • I can't find somewhere to breed - polar bear, back 4
  • I can raid dustbins - polar bear, forward 2
  • Ship lanes are open longer - ship, forward 4
  • Disputes about ship lanes - ship, back 2
  • More tourists buy souvenirs - cruise ship, forward 3
  • Hunting for shorter time - hunter, back 4
  • Minerals mined more easily - pipeline, forward 4
  • Fragile habitats threatened - sik-sik, a small animal that polar bears eat, back 5
  • Happens more quickly in the Arctic - melting glacier, back 4
  • The Arctic warns of climate changes - iceberg, forward 1
  • More research in the Arctic - scientist, forward 3
  • Research shows shrinking ice - picture of ice, back 3
  • More people can visit the Arctic - tourists, forward 3
  • More people can visit the Arctic - tourists, back 3
  • Inuit have own council - Inuit, forward 4
  • The right to be cold - Inuit, back 5

The relative weighting of the forward and back commands could be discussed. Are they right or wrong? How would the students weight the statements? Would they choose different statements? Students could design their own board game about the positive and negative effects of climate change in the Arctic.

Students listen or read the interview with Inuit teenagers and devise their own questions

Sensitive Arctic

An enquiry into the feedback mechanisms in the Arctic and the effect of global ocean currents on the world's climate

Losing the ice

A study of the effect of melting ice on glaciers, ice sheets and permafrost and an investigation as to what this will mean for the region and its people using a drag and drop exercise.

Completed sentences from drag and drop exercise:

  • Less sea ice means - that the storm waves are not buffered by the ice and so waves are stronger and structures in the sea like oil and gas rigs have to be stronger.
  • Storm surges - mean coastal areas are more easily eroded.
  • Loss of sea ice means- that seals surface in open water rather than holes and therefore the polar bears find it more difficult to hunt.
  • Shrinking sea ice means that walruses and other animals - have difficulty finding platforms to nurse their young and to rest. In 2007 the ice moved beyond the edge of the continental shelf where the water became too deep for the walrus to feed.
  • Shrubs are slowly moving into areas which were once covered with snow and ice -caribou and reindeer eat these shrubs in the summer and because there is more food more calves survive.
  • Shrubs are crowding out lichens - which are the main winter food of the caribou and reindeer.
  • Storm surges and changes in currents - mean coastal areas could be flooded and could lead to sediments being deposited.
  • As soils warm up-growing seasons lengthen and more agriculture might take place

Cryosat advantages could include

  • Can operate all year round
  • Can cover both Polar Regions
  • More reliable than people once launched
  • Not affected by adverse weather condition

Cryosat disadvantages could include

  • Costly
  • The first satellite was lost during launch
  • The technology might break down

What happens next?

An investigation into adaptation of plants, animals, birds and people in the Arctic, the effects of climate change elsewhere in the world and the mitigation measures that can be undertaken. Students are encouraged to research the pros and cons of mitigation methods and the implications of these on their own lives.

Polar pitstop

Students draw a timeline of important events in the development of the Arctic. Some events are suggested others could be added from elsewhere in the site. There could be a plenary discussion about why these events are chosen and their importance for climate change.

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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