Landscape Systems: Option C – Dryland Landscapes (A Level)
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- Content: A clear outline of the content covered by the delivery guide;
- Thinking Conceptually: Expert guidance on the key concepts involved, common difficulties students may have, approaches to teaching that can help students understand these concepts and how this topic links conceptually to other areas of the subject;
- Thinking Contextually: A range of suggested teaching activities using a variety of themes so that different activities can be selected which best suit particular classes, learning styles or teaching approaches.
|1. How can Dryland landscapes be viewed as systems?|
|1.a. Dryland landscapes can be viewed as systems.|
|1.b. Dryland landscapes are influenced by a range of physical factors.|
|1.c. There are different types of dryland.|
|2. How are dryland landforms of mid and low latitude deserts developed?|
|2.a. Dryland landforms are inter-related evelop due to a variety of interconnected climatic and geomorphic processes.|
|2.b. Dryland landforms are inter-related and together make up characteristic landscapes.|
|3. How do dryland landforms evolve over time as climate changes?|
|3.a. Fluvial landforms exist as a result of climate change at the end of glacial periods.|
|3.b. Periglacial landforms exist as a result of earlier colder periods.|
|4. How does human activity cause change within dryland landscape systems?|
|4.a. Water supply issues can cause change within dryland landscape systems.|
|4.b. Economic activity can cause change within dryland landscape systems.|
Teaching of this topic must put a strong emphasis on the dryland landscape as a physical system which changes over time due to climate change and the influence of human activities. Having gained an overview of the physical processes at work in the system they must explore case studies of mid-latitude and low-latitude deserts, considering how their landscapes formed and how they change over time. Students must then study the evolution of landforms over time, including the influence of pluvial conditions and colder periods. The topic concludes with case studies of how a water supply issue and economic activity have caused changes within dryland landscape systems.
Common misconceptions or difficulties learners may have
A difficulty with this topic is that most students won’t have visited a dryland landscape, so may find it challenging to appreciate the processes at work in such an arid area. They will benefit from using images and video clips to become more familiar with this environment. Some aspects of landform development share similarities with sandy areas on the coast, which may make them more tangible.
Conceptual links to other areas of the specification – useful ways to approach this topic to set learners up for topics later in the course
This sub-topic links to topic 1.2 Earth’s Life Support systems and topic 3.1 Climate Change. Considering the aridity index will support students’ understanding of the water cycle and studying how dryland climates have changed over time will help them to understand long term changes in water cycles. This consideration of changes over time will also support their understanding of the implications of climate change for the environment.
This activity could be used as an introduction to thinking about drylands as a system, if the word bank is used, or as a review, without the word bank.Students could work individually or in pairs to study the image of a dryland landscape on the activity sheet, then complete the table with examples of inputs, processes, outputs, flows of energy and flows of material within the dryland system shown in the image. Learning could be extended by producing a flow diagram to show the inputs, processes, outputs, flows of energy and flows of material in a drylands landscape.
Students should choose a physical feature card and match it with the processes that cause it. They should then write on a blank arrow to show how the process creates the feature. This could be used as a game, with pairs/groups of students taking it in turns to make a link, gaining a point each time.
This activity uses a vision frame approach and would work well as an introduction to the dryland landscape, drawing on students’ prior learning about desert landscapes.
Students should look at the image of a dryland landscape on the activity sheet and complete the boxes around the image by answering the questions. This will encourage them to consider the landforms shown, how they have formed, how they are interrelated and how they may change over time. Learning could be extended by students choosing one of the landforms shown in the image and producing an annotated sketch of this landform, explaining how it was created.
This activity could be used to review the two desert case studies chosen by the class/teacher. Students should work individually to complete two case study posters using their notes and textbooks, focussing on one mid-latitude desert and one low-latitude desert.
The poster outline on the activity sheet includes space for them to write about physical factors, how landforms are interrelated and how and why the landscape changes over time.
If students are studying the Gobi desert as a mid-latitude desert they could look at the Gobi desert link provided. If they are studying the Sahara as a low-latitude desert they could look at the Sahara desert link.
This activity would work well as a review of how landforms change over time. The activity sheet includes a series of equations with an image of a landform, a physical process and a time scale. Students must answer the equation by drawing an image to show how the landform would change due to this process over this time scale.
Students must answer the equation by drawing an image to show how the landform would change due to this process over this time scale. There are four equations to solve.
Students could share their answers in pairs, explaining why they have drawn the images they have.
The activity could be extended by students creating similar equations to show how two other landforms would change over different time scales.
This activity could be used to introduce the concept of climate change in a dryland area. Students should work individually to produce a timeline using the information about how the Saharan climate has changed over the last 22,000 years from the activity sheet.
They should identify pluvial periods on their timeline and consider how these changes in climate have influenced the formation of landforms in this place.
Learning could be extended by answering a question about how pluvial conditions and geomorphic processes combine to form pediments.
This activity should be used to review learning after studying this area. Students should categorise landforms into periglacial and pluvial features, then work in pairs to order them from those that were quickest to form to those that took the longest to form.
Learning could be extended by students choosing three landforms from the list and explaining how they are likely to be affected by present and future climate change.
This activity could be used to launch or review this area. Students read an extract about climate change in desert regions, highlighting information about pluvial and periglacial periods, then answer questions about how these changes would affect dryland landscapes.
Students read an extract on ‘Changing Climates’ from Middleton, N. 2009. ‘Deserts - A Very Short Introduction’. OUP, then answer questions related to it to explore how dryland landforms have been influenced by pluvial and colder climates in the past and how they may be modified by processes associated with present and future climate change. Learning could be extended by students carrying out their own research to find out how climates in dryland areas are predicted to change in the future and what impact these changes would have on dryland landscapes.
This activity could be used to introduce this area as it involves students using a climate graph and images of three features to try to explain why a water supply issue has arisen in the place and how it could affect landscape features found there.
Students could take this further by investigating how future climate change could affect the features shown.
This activity can be used to support students in producing a case study of how human use has an impact on a case study of a dryland environment. Students can use textbooks, links and their own research to complete the table on the activity sheet.
The links are provided in the resources section on the right.
This activity could be used to review the impact of tourism on the Namib Desert and develop extended writing skills.
Students are challenged to write a report for the United Nations Environment Programme entitled ‘Tourism and Deserts - A Practical Guide to Managing the Social and Environmental Impacts in the Desert tourism Sector’ encouraging key stakeholders in the tourism industry to consider how to be economically viable, ecologically sustainable, and ethically and socially equitable. The activity sheet provides the outline for a spider diagram for them to complete to plan their report and reminds them to include an evaluative conclusion.
Students could submit their reports to another member of the class for peer review, with their partner feeding pack using what went well (WWW) and even better if (EBI).
This activity focuses on the geographical skill of using sediment balance calculations. The activity sheet includes a table of findings from the classic study by Leopold et al (1966) with gaps for the students to fill by manipulating the data provided.
The table is followed by questions related to the data and drylands processes. Learning could be extended by students considering how the sediment budget for Santa Fe may have changed since Leopold’s study in 1966.
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