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Water and carbon cycles

The carbon and water cycles play a key role in supporting life on Earth. Study of this theme must take place within a systems framework emphasising the integrated nature of land, earth and atmosphere.

Through the study of both the carbon and water cycles, students will discover the physical processes which control them over a range of times, spaces and scales. Knowledge of the distribution and size of the most important stores of carbon and water on land, the oceans, the atmosphere or cryosphere will also be required, along with the factors driving change in the size of these stores over time and in space.

There is also an opportunity to discover the links between the two cycles using climate change as a key context for exploration of the role of feedbacks within and between the two cycles. Students will use and explore a range of quantitative skills within this theme, including an understanding of simple mass balance, unit conversions, and the analysis and presentation of field data.

Resources to support carbon and water cycles

Carbon and water cycles . Presentation by Professor Martin Evans, with a focus on peatlands.

This presentation was produced for a GA CPD event by Professor Martin Evans. It focuses particularly on peatlands.

Geography Matters: The Carbon Cycle

Four articles published in Geography Matters addressing the teaching of the carbon cycle, climate change in Cambodia, green energy in Iceland and climate change and water supply.

Top Spec Geography: The Climate Crisis

This book, written by Tim Daley and Kate Stockings, offers a view of the climate crisis: its origins, the main drivers, its impacts, and some proposed solutions.

Top Spec Geography: Water and Carbon Cycles

This book, written by Russell H Chapman Sara A Thornton, provides an up-to-date exploration of the changes in the water and carbon cycles brought about by human actions.

Climate, water insecurity, consumption

Three-minute video in which Professor Danny Dorling talks about how a changing world will increase the natural hazards that we face. 

Climate change in urban areas: Bangladesh case study

This resource pack was written by Dr Joanne Jordan and Victoria Hewett.

Rivers and the water cycle

Rivers is a popular topic in school geography, so any key stage 3 rivers teaching needs to be mindful of what will follow later in their students’ geography career to avoid repetition of content but also to lay some key foundations of studying physical geography.

Investigating climate change – sea level rise

This activity links geography and science to investigate how sea level could rise and how it would impact on different places.


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