Geography - Changing Planet

  • Created by: Maybury
  • Created on: 29-03-17 20:01

UK climate

Temperatures are higher in summer than in winter

  • Migration of the overhead sun - due to the Earth's tilt, the sun is more directly overhead in summer so the sun's rays are more concentrated
  • Air masses - only in summer do we get tropical continental air masses

In winter, temperatures are highest in the south west and decrease with distance towards the north east

  • Air masses - both arctic maritime and polar continental come from the north
  • Latitude - because the north is higher, it is colder as the sun's rays are less intense
  • Ocean currents - warm ocean currents from the Gulf of Mexico arrive at the southwest

Precipitation is higest in the west and decreases with distance east

  • Prevailing winds - come from south west and bring wet weather
  • Air masses - both tropical maritime and polar maritime affect the west more
  • Altitude - areas of high altitude see more rainfall because the clouds are pushed up the mountain where they condense to produce precipitation
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UK climate continued

Snow is most common in the interior of the UK

  • Altitude - places of high altitude are found more inland (for every 100m gained, the temperature decreases by 1°C)
  • Distance from sea - it is colder inland as the sea retains heat better meaning coastal areas are warmer and therefore see less snow

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Impacts of UK climate change - Disadvantages

Social                     Environmental                     Economical

  • Drought and water shortages could become more common
  • More illness e.g.heat stroke, skin cancer
  • Farmers may have to change crops to those that need less water and more sunshine
  • Tourism may increase causing congestion for locals
  • Higher temperatures may melt roads and buckle train lines
  • Some plants and animals could die in the UK if the temperatures get too high
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Impacts of UK climate change - Advantages

Social                     Environmental                     Economical

  • In winter heating costs and road gritting costs could fall
  • More people would take holidays in the UK
  • More land could be farmed at higher altitudes
  • There would be fewer deaths of old people in winter due to cold
  • New crops might mean new sales opportunities for farmers
  • Some businesses will do better in warm weather e.g. ice cream vans
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Climate change - Egypt

  • Global temperature increase will cause global sea levels to rise.  This means that 15% of Egypt's land could be permanantly flooded with a 1m sea level rise meaning that there will be less land for agriculture and 7 million people may be permanently displaced from their homes.
  • This rise in global temperatures may also affect rainfall patterns, reducing rainfall in the area. This will lead to drought and a loss of natural vegetation (desertification).  This will reduce the quality of soils for farming, reducing the crop yields for both commercial and subsistence farmers. This in turn will lead to the undernourishment of the poorest (44% of Egypt's population live on less than $2 a day) and will mean that Egypt will fail to pay of its $30 billion debt due to the reduction in export of crops.
  • Egypt may also have to invest in new water projects to reduce conflict with neighbouring countries over the Nile's water.
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Future climate change


  • By 2050, the temperature is expected to be 1-2°C higher
  • It is also predicted that winter precipitation levels will rise by up to 20%
  • Summer precipitation levels are expected to decrease by up to 20%


  • Sea levels are expected to rise up to 0.18-1.8m by 2100 due to ice caps melting so there is more liquid in the sea and thermal expansionas when particles heat up, they move farther apart
  • Global temperatures will rise
  • Precipitation will be variable and unpredictable

Future climate change will be affected by:

  • Population change, changes in attitudes, future economic growth, future deforestation, future technology, future energy sources
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Enhanced greenhouse effect

The increased greenhouse effect resulting from human action (emmisions of greenhouse gasses), leading to global warming

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Natural causes of climate change

  • Eruption theory - large volcanic eruptions can change the Earth's climate as they produce ash and sulphur dioxide which will stop sunlight reaching the Earth's surface, lowering the temperature e.g. Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 releasing 17 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide, reducing sunlight by 10% and temperature by 0.5°C
  • Sunspot theory - sunspots are black areas on the sun.  Sometimes the sun has a lot of sunspots and at other times they disappear.  This occurs on an 11 year cycle.  Lots of spots means more solar energy s being fired from the sun towards Earth, increasing the temperature on Earth e.g. The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Periods
  • Orbital theory - the Earth's orbit sometimes changes from circular to elliptical and can tilt or wobble in what is called Milankowitch Cycles.  This affects the amount of sunlight the Earth recieves e.g. inter-glacials
  • Asteroid collision theory - a large asteroid colliding with Earth would release a lot of vapourised material into the atmosphere.  This blocks out the sun causing a potential drop in temperatures of 5-6°C.  The temperatures would then rise due to forest fires e.g. extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago
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The Little Ice Age

  • The Little Ice Age was an extended cold period caused by climate change which occured between 1315 and 1870
  • Cold and rain in the spring and summer of 1315
  • In some areas 10-20% of people died of hunger
  • Valley glaciers grew and destroyed villages and farmland
  • Wheat and oats did not ripen and the harvest failed meaning that by 1317 the 'Great Famine' had begun
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  • Most megafauna weighed over 40kg e.g. mammoth, giant elk
  • They died out around 10,000-15,000 years ago
  • This was because the climate warmed by 6°C in 1000 years causing them to migrate to try to find areas to live and new plants to eat in these areas.  This may have disrupted the food chain, leaving some animals short of food.
  • Humans helped the extinction of megafauna as they hunted some of the megafauna meaning there was less prey for carnivores.
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