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Extreme environments

Content Learning Outcomes Notes
1.     Challenging environments




·        Global distribution of extreme environments

4 hours












·        Population

2 hours



(2 environments are 1. Cold and high altitude environments and hot, arid environments)


Explain the global distribution of each of the two kinds of extreme environments.


Describe the relief and climatic characteristics that make these environments extreme. Explain how these characteristics present challenges for resource development and human habitation.


Explain the other factors responsible for a low density of population in these areas: human discomfort, inaccessibility, remoteness.


Identify ways in which people adapt their activities to extremes of weather and climate.

2.     The physical characteristics of extreme environments


·        Glacial environment

3 hours





·        Periglacial environment

3 hours



·        Hot, arid environments (hot deserts and semi arid areas)

4 hours






Explain the advance and retreat of glaciers and the main features resulting from the processes of erosion and deposition by glaciers.


Explain permafrost, patterned ground, soliflucation, thermokast, pingos.


Explain weathering and the processes involved in wind and water formed features. Explain the occurrence of flash floods.

3.     Opportunities and challenges for management


·        Agriculture

4 hours











·        Mineral extraction

2 hours













2 hours









·        Tourism

3 hours





Hot, arid areas: examine the opportunity for agriculture in these areas, the distinction between aridity and infertility, the importance of irrigation and risk of salinization, and the processes and factors involved in desertification.



Periglacial areas: examine the opportunities and challenges posed by permafrost and other characteristics of periglacial areas for resource development (mineral extraction and any associated settlement and communications)


Hot, arid areas; examine the opportunities and challenges posed for resource development (mineral extraction and any associated settlement and communications).


Examine the opportunities and challenges posed by the development of tourism and any associated settlement and communications in one type of extreme environment.

Examine the impacts on the environment, such as mass movement and erosion, land degradation, vulnerability to hazards, aesthetic change, water usage and waste disposal.

4.     Sustainability

3 hours

·        Human activity






·        Impact



Discuss the degree to which human activities in extreme environments are unsustainable.


Discuss the potential impact of global climatic change (global warming) on the indigenous populations, settlement and economic activities in extreme environments.

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