Teachers' pages

A-level section teachers' notes

Links with A-level geography specifications for:
Ice, land and sea
Atmosphere, weather and climate
Terrestrial and marine ecosystems

The following survey outlines the main topics written into the geography A-level specifications for which these resources can be used. It also identifies which sections to go to for material on different topics. The detail below is organised by exam board (AQA, Edexcel, OCR, WJEC), and anything in quotation marks is quoted directly from the published specification content.

AQA

AQA AS Unit 1 Physical and Human Geography: Option 1: Cold environments

"The global distribution of cold environments – polar (land and marine based)..." See Section 1, especially 1.1 Key physical features and 1.5 The coast and adjacent seas for the Southern Ocean. Also see Section 2 for the climate factors, especially 2.1 Key factors behind Antarctica's climate.

"Glaciers as systems – glacial budgets" Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation contains detail on how glaciers work, on mass balance, and on polar ice sheets.

"Exploitation and development in tundra areas and the Southern Ocean." Section 3.3 The marine environment and Section 3.4 Ecosystem change and exploration provide background to the Southern Ocean, its food web, and issues surrounding protection and sustainable use of this ecosystem.

"The future of Antarctica – to consider contemporary issues..." Aspects of this are covered in several sections, especially Section 2.3 Climate change: past and future, 2.4 The ozone hole, and 3.4 Ecosystem change and exploration.

AQA AS Unit 2 Geographical Skills

"A range of skills taken from at least three of the six categories – basic, investigative, ICT, graphical, cartographical and statistical will be examined in each exam series." Sections 1, 2, and 3 all contain some skills-based Student activities – Sections 1.4, 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4 have attached Excel spreadsheets with data for students to manipulate, graph, and interpret.

AQA A2 Unit 3 Contemporary Geographical Issues: Option 2: Weather and climate

"Evidence for climatic change over the last 20 000 years." Section 2.3 Climate change: past and future discusses ice core evidence and provides some background to glacials and interglacials. Some of the suggested weblinks contained in the section (and links in Section 1.2) are relevant to the last 20 000 years.

AQA A2 Unit 3 Contemporary Geographical Issues: Option 3: Ecosystems

"Structure of ecosystems, energy flows, trophic levels, food chains and food webs." Most of Section 3 is relevant to this topic. 3.3 The marine environment discusses the Southern Ocean and provides an excellent ecosystem case-study.

Edexcel

Edexcel AS Unit 1 Global Challenges: Topic 1: World at Risk (4 climate change)

"The current phenomenon of global warming should be set in the context of longer, medium and short term climate change" "Researching the evidence of:...ice cores, and past glacial/sea level change" "Exploring the role of variations in earth orbit..." Section 2.3 Climate change: past and future is the most relevant section for this topic. It contains detail on ice cores and discusses recent global warming in relation to longer time-scale climate variations inferred from palaeoclimate studies. (Student activities in Section 1.2 Tectonic history: into the deep freeze can be used to research glacial/interglacial cycles and variations in Earth's orbit.)

Edexcel AS Unit 1 Global Challenges: Topic 1: World at Risk (5 impacts of warming)

"Developing an awareness of the direct impacts of global warming through case studies of vulnerable places..." Section 1.5 The coast and adjacent seas focuses on retreating ice shelves (with data in Student activity 3) and Section 2.3 Climate change: past and future addresses the current, and potential future, contribution of Antarctic ice melt to global sea-level rise. It also looks at the significant climate warming affecting the Antarctic Peninsula. Section 3.4 Ecosystem change and exploration discusses the impacts of climate change on south polar ecosystems.

Edexcel A2 Unit 3 Contested Planet: Topic 3: Biodiversity Under Threat

"Ecosystems have value and importance in terms of biodiversity and ecological resources which should be illustrated with reference to a named global ecosystem..." Section 3.3 The marine environment discusses the ecology of the Southern Ocean which provides an excellent case-study of a named global ecosystem.

"The concept of sustainable yield..." "The role of different players (individuals, interest groups, international organisations is important in managing biodiversity..." Section 3.4 Ecosystem change and exploration introduces the concept of sustainable yield in the context of managing the biological resources of the Southern Ocean, and the Student activities of this section are directly focused on this issue.

Edexcel A2 Unit 4 Geographical Research: Option 2: Cold Environments (1 Defining and locating cold environments)

"Researching cold environments and becoming aware that not all cold environments are the same." "The concepts of landscape systems, glacial systems, mass balance..." Most of Sections 1 and 2 are relevant, especially 2.1 Key factors behind Antarctica's climate which emphasises the differences between the Antarctic and the Arctic, and 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation which discusses glacial systems and the concept of mass balance.

Edexcel A2 Unit 4 Geographical Research: Option 2: Cold Environments (2 climate processes)

"The climatic causes of cold environments..." "The meteorological processes associated with cold climates in different types of cold environment..." Most of Section 2 is useful for this topic, especially 2.1 Key factors behind Antarctica's climate and 2.2 Regional climate variation and weather (the latter section looks in more detail at meteorological phenomena in Antarctica).

Edexcel A2 Unit 4 Geographical Research: Option 2: Cold Environments (3 Distinctive landforms and landscapes)

"The role of geomorphological processes in glacial environments." "The distinctive landforms produced by these processes..." There is relevant material in Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation, and Student activity 2 in this section asks students to identify glacially produced landforms from an aerial photograph. (Longer term and tectonic processes in Antarctica are covered in Section 1.2 Tectonic history: into the deep freeze and Section 1.3 Antarctica's geology.)

Edexcel A2 Unit 4 Geographical Research (Skills)

"There is scope for extensive use of virtual fieldwork and GIS."
Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation provides an example of 'virtual fieldwork' through one of the Student activities on estimating glacier velocity through satellite-based crevasse tracking. Section 2.2 Regional climate variation and weather includes a link in the Student activities to a GIS based on-line programme. In Section 3.3 The marine environment there is a Student activity based on the interpretation of satellite images from the Nasa Earth Observatory website.

OCR

OCR AS Unit F761 Managing Physical Environments: Topic 3: Cold environments

"What processes and factors give cold environments their distinctive characteristics?"

"...result of climatic and geomorphological processes."

"The study of a cold environment...to illustrate: ...the way that ice and water shape the landscape to produce distinctive landforms..."

Section 1.1 Key physical features and Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation provide background on the distinctive characteristics of Antarctica and its geomorphology.

"What processes and factors give cold environments their distinctive characteristics?"

"result of climatic and geomorphological processes."

"The study of a cold environment...to illustrate:...the impact of climate and weathering on the physical landscape;"

Section 2.1 Key factors behind Antarctica's climate details the climatic processes responsible for Antarctica's environment.

"Why are cold environments considered to be 'fragile'?

"Climatic extremes lead to finely balanced ecosystems..."

"The study of one cold environment to illustrate: the impacts of climate on the nature of the ecosystem; how both physical and human factors make the environment ecologically vulnerable."

Most of Section 3 is relevant here, and Section 3.4 Ecosystem change and exploration in particular focuses on the various impacts of climatic change and human activity on the terrestrial and marine ecosystems of Antarctica.

OCR AS Unit F761 Managing Physical Environments (Skills)

"Analysis of a variety of types of image" Photographs and/or satellite images are present in all three sections.

"Map work at a variety of scales" Section 1.1 Key physical features has map work as part of the Student activities. Other sections also contain questions that require places to be located and plotted on base maps.

"Statistical analysis, including charts and graphs" Many of the Student activities require the manipulation of data, the production and/or interpretation of graphs, and simple statistical analyses (descriptive statistics). Especially Sections 1.4, 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4 that have Excel spreadsheets attached to the Student activities.

"Use of GIS and other modern technology" The concept of GIS is included in the Student activities for Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation and Section 2.2 Regional climate variation and weather (through the weblink to the GIS-based programme by the USGS). The use of remote sensing technology appears in several of the sections, notably Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation which discusses the use of satellites to track the movement of ice and Section 3.3 The marine environment which discusses the use of satellite imagery to map the abundance of phytoplankton. Sections 1.1 and 1.4 (Student activities) contain links to the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica.

OCR A2 Unit F763 Global Issues: Option A2: Ecosystems and environments under threat

"What are the main components of ecosystems and environments and how do they change over time?" Section 3.1 Biogeography of Antarctica reviews key ecosystem concepts, as well as introducing ecosystems of Antarctica and the surrounding seas.

"The study of at least one example of sustainable environmental management of a located physical environment..." The Southern Ocean (discussed in Section 3.3 The marine environment) serves as an excellent case-study for this topic, and Section 3.4 Ecosystem change and exploration addresses the issue of sustainable management of the Southern Ocean ecosystem and the nature and functions of The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

OCR A2 Unit F764 Geographical Skills

"The use of technology, eg GIS, remote sensing, etc as research tools"

The concept of GIS is included in the Student activities for Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation and Section 2.2 Regional climate variation and weather (through the weblink to the GIS-based programme by the USGS). The use of remote sensing technology appears in several of the sections, notably Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation which discusses the use of satellites to track the movement of ice and Section 3.3 The marine environment which discusses the use of satellite imagery to map the abundance of phytoplankton. Sections 1.1 and 1.4 (Student activities) contain links to the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica.

WJEC

WJEC AS Unit G1 Changing Physical Environments: Theme 1: Investigating climate change

"Short-term climate change. Long-term climate change" Section 2.3 Climate change: past and future explains climate change on different timescales with reference to both ice core data and instrumental records. Section 1.2 Tectonic history: into the deep freeze looks at climate changes over geological timescales.

"Analysis of evidence for global warming..." Section 2.3 Climate change: past and future discusses global warming, especially in relation to the Antarctic Peninsula which provides important evidence. Section 1.5 The coast and adjacent seas also discusses evidence for global warming in the form of retreating ice shelves.

"What are the issues resulting from climate change?" This is touched upon in several of the sections, especially Section 2.3 and Section 3.4 Ecosystem change and exploration.

WJEC A2 Unit G3 Contemporary Themes and Research in Geography: Theme 2a: Glacial landforms and their management

"What is a glacial system and what are the dynamics of glacial environments?"

Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation introduces the concept of glaciers as systems and discusses the dynamics of ice sheets in Antarctica as well as of glaciers more generally.

WJEC A2 Unit G3 Contemporary Themes and Research in Geography: Theme 3: Climatic hazards

"What are the world's major climates?" Section 2.1 Key factors behind Antarctica's climate can be used to teach about polar climates.

WJEC AS/A2 Skills

"On completion of the AS and A level course candidates should have developed the ability to: use a range of skills and techniques, including the use of maps and images at different scales...use a variety of methods...modern information technologies, including geographical information systems..." Several sections include opportunities for students to develop their understanding of geographical skills and techniques, especially Sections 1.4, 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4 that have attached Excel spreadsheets with data for students to manipulate, graph, and interpret. The concept of GIS is included in the Student activities for Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation and Section 2.2 Regional climate variation and weather (through the weblink to the GIS-based programme by the USGS). The use of remote sensing technology appears in several of the sections, notably Section 1.4 Ice sheets and glaciation which discusses the use of satellites to track the movement of ice and Section 3.3 The marine environment which discusses the use of satellite imagery to map the abundance of phytoplankton. Sections 1.1 and 1.4 (Student activities) contain links to the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica.

Teachers section pages

 

 

British Antarctic SurveyRoyal Geographic SocietyForeign and Commonwealth OfficeBritish Antarctic Territory