Changing weather and climate

This overview outlines a series of key questions with associated activity options that can contribute to the teaching of the national curriculum subject content for GCSE Geography (Changing weather and climate), alongside individual exam board specifications. Drawing on the latest scientific data and projections, these resources can support learners to develop an understanding of the relationship between humans, climate change and the natural world. 

Unit of learning

Key Questions

What is climate change?  

Support learners to retrieve knowledge about key terms: climate change, global warming and the greenhouse effect. Consider the importance of learners raising their own questions about climate change in preparation for their future learning.

Carbon Footprint | Royal Meteorological Society

Climate Change Tiles | Royal Geographical Society

Small Gases, Big Effect | Royal Geographical Society

How do we know that the Earth’s climate is changing?  

Through these activities learners can understand the most reliable and comprehensive source of information about climate change: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as the evidence the IPCC report draws upon. Use resources to support learners to explore different sources of evidence that tell us how climate is changing as a consequence of human activity. For example by plotting greenhouse gas concentration data against global temperature data.

The Evidence for Past Climate Change | Royal Meteorological Society

The Evidence for Climate Change | Royal Meteorological Society

Climate Stripes | Royal Meteorological Society 

Past Climate | Royal Meteorological Society 

Can we predict the future?  

Explore how the IPCC provides us with the science of the impacts of climate change as well as evidence-based ideas about how to tackle the challenges of its potential effects. 

Modelling Future Climate in the UK | esri UK

Climate Change and urban areas | Royal Meteorological Society 

What are the impacts of climate change on people and places around the world?  

This can be an opportunity to explore broad global impacts like ocean acidification and the science behind them. As well as regionally or locally specific impacts such as deforestation or changes to the frequency of extreme weather, and the differing effects on people in different places.

Ocean Acidification | Royal Meteorological Society

Rainforest Deforestation | Royal Meteorological Society 

The 2022 Pakistan floods | Royal Geographical Society 

Regions most affected by climate change | Royal Geographical Society 

What are people doing in response to the impacts of climate change?  

These resources support learners to understand the terms climate change mitigation and adaptation. Learners can use resources to analyse different mitigating strategies including nature-based solutions.

Climate change and ecosystem recovery | Royal Geographical Society

My2050 | Royal Geographical Society 

How do we stay safe as sea levels rise? | The Royal Society 

How can we work towards a positive vision of the future?

These resources provide interdisciplinary opportunities for learners to explore their own and others’ feelings about climate change. Resources also include opportunities to celebrate the ways in which other people and places are positively responding to the impacts of climate change, to provide examples of positive changes learners might make themselves.  

We've Got The Poetry Power | The Poetry Society 

Pathways to Making Change | Natural History Museum 

39 Ways to Save the Planet | Royal Geographical Society 

Supporting Information

Key Concepts

Climate change – a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures
Global Warming – the long-term heating of Earth’s surface observed since the pre-industrial period due to human activities
Anthropocene – An unofficial term for the current geological age; the period during which human activity started to have a notable impact on the climate and environment.
Adaptation – Actions taken to help cope with the effects of climate change, for example, building flood defences, or planting new crops that will thrive under new conditions. Not to be confused with the biological definition, i.e. a characteristic of an organism that improves the likelihood of it surviving and/or reproducing.
Mitigation – Actions taken to limit the impacts of climate change, such as introducing targets to limit emissions.
Extreme weather – A weather event that is notably different from the usual weather pattern – ie particularly severe or unseasonable. For example, flash floods or a heat wave in the UK. 

Further Activities and Opportunities

Students may wish to participate in the National Education Nature Park programme, exploring nature-based responses to the impacts of climate change.  

Students can use the Investigate Weather and Microclimates tool to develop and extend geography fieldwork skills, applying enquiry and investigative approaches to real world contexts.

Green Careers

These career profiles from the Royal Meteorological Society showcase a range of roles available in relation to climate science.

Helen Johnson

Andrew Marshall

Sylvia Knight