003 - Cold Environments

Geographic Knowledge and Understanding

Relief and climatic characteristics that make environments extreme.

How relief, climate, human discomfort present challenges for human habitation and resource development.

Key Concepts

The extreme nature of some locations helps to define them as a place. Their extreme nature means that they be infamous, newsworthy or even tourist destinations. The power of physical processes led to the extreme nature of these cold locations. The possibilities associated with climate change is likely to lead to the cold areas shrinking or becoming warmer which could make human habitation and resource extraction easier but opportunities for tourism more limited.


To be able to describe the relief and climatic characteristics that make cold environments extreme.

To be able to explain the risk of flash floods in cold environments.

To be able to describe and explain how relief and climate can create human discomfort, challenges for human habitation and resource development in cold environments.

To give detailed examples of cold environments.

Key Terminology

  • Density

Useful Link

Activity One - Describe

There are a whole host of clips that we could watch to really see how the climate of cold areas impacts our activities and mobility. Regardless of your thoughts of Top Gear it gives a lively overview of what the North Pole is like - in a high latitude environment. Watch the clip below and write down how this environment impacts what the presenters wear, eat and how they travel. You could record your thoughts in bullet points or by using a small mind map.

  1. What are the key climatic characteristics of cold environments? Use the youtube clip below to answer this question and then the textbook 'Glaciation and Periglaciation' by Jane Knight to help flesh out your answer.
  2. What is the relief like in cold environments. Use the youtube clip below to answer the question.

Useful Resources

Taken From: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glaciation-Periglaciation-Advanced-Master-Masters/dp/184489617X

Pages 8-11

Activity Two - Explain

You have now viewed what a cold environment can be like by focusing on the North Pole. While the clip illustrated that cold environments are difficult to live in it is not completely impossible. Humans choose to live in extremely cold areas due to the types of resources that can be found there. The demand for very specific resources can change over time. We are very quickly going to explore one such area - Churchill which is located in Canada.

Before we start this section download the two apps below onto your phones.

Google Expeditions

Taken From: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/7J4jAmS69Lhdc0y_CQ5LX3mWQWbTGB70P8r1YHKiYL9gQhlD0y31RzCzy0VL94WKWm4=w300

Google Cardboard

Taken From: https://vr.google.com/cardboard/images/hero-cardboard-download-mobile.jpg
  1. What is the difference between inaccessible and remote?
  2. Using the google expeditions app search for Churchill.
          • Describe how the conditions in this area could cause human discomfort.
          • What is making this area inaccessible?
          • What evidence is there that suggests this area is remote?
  3. Collect a piece of A3 paper and copy the table below into it.
      • Describe and explain why human discomfort, remoteness and inaccessibility impact population density within Churchill.
      • Now do the same as the previous bullet point but for the Alps.
Population Extreme Environments

Activity Three - Flash Floods

Flash floods can also occur in cold environments as well as hot ones. It is very much related to the sessional melt water caused by the warming of temperature in high altitude environments. Watch the clip below and read the article in the 'Useful Resource' and explain how floods are caused by the snow melt.

Activity Four - Detailed Example

You are now going to link your the key ideas of this lesson together by creating a detailed example for a specific glacial area. Remember a detailed example is between one and two paragraphs in length. If you bullet point your detailed example it should include no more information than can fit on an A6 piece of paper. For a detailed example you need to include the following things:

        • Glacial area name
        • Location
        • Description of the climate
        • Description of the relief
        • State whether there is human habitation and whether there is resource extraction occurring.

Useful Resource

'Our Planet's Extreme Environments' by Codrington pages 20-26

Taken From: https://www.amazon.com.au/Planets-Extreme-Environments-Planet-Geography-ebook/dp/B071F6M16S