Plant response to climate change

Botanical gardens have large collections of plants which are of importance to humans (crop plants); for example, they may be used for food (sugar), medicines (willow), building material (hardwood trees) or clothing (cotton). Climate change may have a significant effect on the growth of some important plants with growing seasons changing or even some common plants longer thriving in the UK. Using GeoSciTeach, teachers would be able to enhance pupil knowledge and understanding of the types of crops presently grown in the UK and how these may respond to climate change, and the different types of plants that may have to be grown in the future. Pupils explore the botanical garden and identify plants currently grown as crops in the UK; teachers will have used GeoSciTeach to tag these with information (classification, ideal environmental conditions, uses), which is sent to the smartphone as pupils encounter them. Pupils would also be able to access information about various climate change prediction models showing how rainfall, temperature and wind speed may change in the UK climate during the next 100 years. Using this information, pupils would then be guided to alternative crop plants which are better adapted to these possible models. For example, sugar beet (the main sugar crop in the UK) does not respond well to high temperatures whereas cereals do. Students can photograph these crops and record specific data for use back at school. In the classroom, the gathered information could be uploaded and used to develop a model of how UK agriculture may change in response to climate change; a novel approach maybe to construct a map of the UK using a mosaic of the plant pictures taken, to illustrate how the UK may look under different climatic conditions. Interesting questions about how climate change may affect other important environmental characteristics (such as nutrient availability in the soil, plant pathogenic attack and disease resistance) could also be incorporated.

 

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