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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): the heart of geography
Polar science - lesson one
Polar science - lesson two
Polar science - lesson three

'From the Field' Awards

Inspiring fieldwork supported by the RGS-IBG

In collaboration with:

The Goldsmiths' Company


Pole of Cold - What does winter mean to you?

“Winter is an intriguing phenomenon and this expedition is inspired by a fascination with day-to-day life in sub-zero temperatures. By exchanging winter wisdom between communities, we hope to provide a fresh look at how we manage our lifestyles during the most severe weather.”   Team manager Felicity Aston

Key words

  • Seasons
  • Winter
  • Arctic
  • Continentality
  • Permafrost
  • Circum-Polar
  • Culture
  • Sami
  • Russia
  • Extreme
  • Climate
  • Siberia


The expedition will undertake a journey to chase the onset of winter across Europe and Siberia as far as the Pole of Cold, the coldest place in the northern hemisphere: a place called Oymyakon in Russia.The expedition will focus on winter as a geographical concept by exploring the social, cultural and physical implications of the season on the communities we meet. Felicity Aston, the project leader said “While enduring testing cold-weather conditions ourselves, we will combine adventure, geography and art to share stories of day-to-day life in extreme climates in order that others might draw inspiration from them to look again at winter and their own lifestyles during the coldest months. It is a fascination for the stories of lives lived in extreme conditions, the peculiarities of nature at subzero temperatures and the challenge of travel that motivates us”.

View the Pole of Cold expedition website

Key topics and themes

  • How communities and individuals cope with extremely low temperatures
  • How plants and animals are affected by sub-zero temperatures
  • The reasons why certain places are so cold
  • The main characteristics of the landscape in Siberia, and how they are changing
  • Impact of the cold on travel through Siberia

Key Questions

  • How cold is cold? – when and where are places coldest?
  • What is life like in the freezer? – how does cold affect people?
  • Why is Oymyakon the ‘Pole of Cold’? – why do some places get so cold?

Lesson 1

Lesson one »

Lesson 2

Lesson two »

Lesson 3

Lesson three »

The researchers

Pole of Cold Team

The Pole of Cold team consists of Felicity Aston, Gisli Jonsson and Manu Palomeque. The Pole of Cold Expedition is funded by the Land Rover / RGS-IBG ‘Go Beyond’ Bursary, an annual award given to an expedition that pushes boundaries and encourages a greater interest in Geography.

Land Rover


This resource was awarded Overall Winner in the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers Awards 2014 (Non Book Category)


Documents to download

About the author

Alan ParkinsonAlan Parkinson CGeog (Teacher) worked for the Geographical Association as Secondary Curriculum Development Leader between 2008 and 2011, after teaching for twenty years in Norfolk. He is a prolific blogger, and received the Ordnance Survey Award for 'excellence in secondary geography teaching' from the RGS-IBG in 2008, and the Tivy Education Medal from the RSGS in 2013. He is currently a freelance author and geographer, and also teaches Geography at King’s Ely school.

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