Final dates! Join the tutor2u subject teams in London for a day of exam technique and revision at the cinema. Learn more

Study Notes

GCSE Geography | Adapting to Climate Change (Climate Change 8)

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas

Last updated 19 Jul 2023

We can try to reduce the impact of global climate change in two ways - by mitigation or adaptation strategies.

Mitigation strategies - these limit the cause of the issue - in this case reducing or preventing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting valuable carbon sinks. These strategies can be on a local or global scale, for example, investing in renewable energy.

Adaptation strategies - where people respond to the impacts of climate change by adjusting how they live or work, in order to make themselves less vulnerable. These strategies are local as they respond to localised impacts, for example, building homes on stilts in areas where there has been an increase in flood risk, or planting drought-resistant seeds in areas of low rainfall.

This page of study notes focuses on CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION.


Scientists predict that climate change will have a huge impact on food supply across the globe - more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts, and the increase in pests and diseases, will make farming very difficult. Farmers may see their yields drop in low latitudes, such as South-east Asia so they need to adapt to these changes.

There are lots of adaptations that farmers can make around the globe, such as introducing new cropping patterns by altering the planting and sowing dates; using drought-resistant seeds (although these are more expensive); investing in more efficient irrigation systems and learning about water harvesting techniques; as well as planting trees to protect seedlings from strong sunshine by providing shade.

It will be much more difficult for farmers in developing nations to adapt to climate change - at the Paris Accord rich nations agreed to financially support poorer nations with adaptation strategies.

Water supply

Drought and flood events have already become more frequent and more severe due to climate change - this leads to unreliable rainfall and periods of water insecurity (in terms of both water quantity and quality). This will affect people living in rural areas of developing nations more than anyone else.

There are two ways to manage water supply – reducing demand and increasing supply. London is a rich city but is in the driest part of England with the highest demand for water – by 2030 all homes in London should have been offered a free retrofit package of water-efficient appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, which will use less water and make water conservation easier. London Thames Water have opened a desalination plant in Beckton to increase water security in the capital city. This plant takes water from the River Thames and turns it into drinking water through the process of reverse osmosis. It removes water at low tide as the water has a lower salt content then. However this desalinisation plant is expensive and uses a lot of energy.

In LICs and NEEs the ways to manage water supply tend to be small-scale, a really good example of this is the artificial glacier project in Ladakh in India. Here rivers are fed by snow and glacial melt and this is used by millions of people for domestic use and farming. However most of the 16,000 glaciers are retreating as a result of global warming, this means that in the long term the water supply may be threatened. As a result the artificial glacier project has been developed which uses a system of diversion canals and embankments to collect water - this freezes in winter forming an artificial glacier, which will provide water in the spring when it melts.

Rising sea levels

Sea levels have risen on average by 20cm since 1900, and are expected to rise further between 26-82cm by 2100 - this will lead to widespread flooding across low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam and will wipe out crops. We will also see higher rate of erosion along coastlines, more damage from storm surges and an increase in saltwater contamination of fresh water supplies.

One city at risk from sea level rise is London. In 1982 the Thames Barrier was constructed to stop tidal surges coming up the Thames and into London. Since then it has been closed over 100 times. When it was designed it was expected to be breached once every 1,000 years, however if sea levels rise here by 50cm the risk of breach would increase to once every 100 years.

However other places are far less resilient against sea level rise – for example the Maldives, a group of tiny islands in the Indian Ocean. They are extremely low-lying with the highest point at just 2.4m above sea level. The 380,000 inhabitants have a very uncertain future as sea levels rise as some climate models suggest that the islands may be uninhabitable by 2030 and submerged by 2070. The Maldivian government famously filmed an underwater cabinet meeting with the government in scuba gear, over a decade ago to share their plight with the globe. They are now focusing on many different adaptation strategies such as the construction of sea walls, for example, a 3m sea wall has been built around the capital Male, and sandbags have been used to reinforce other areas. Houses have been built on stilts so they won't flood if the water level rises and mangrove swamps have been restored - they are great way to protect inhabitants from storm waves as the tangled roots trap sediment. Raised artificial islands have been constructed and there has also been discussion about relocating the entire population to Sri Lanka or India!

Adapting to Climate Change | AQA GCSE Geography | Climate Change 8

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.