Join us
Orange welcome sign that reads Royal Geographical Society with IBG.

Become a member and discover where geography can take you.

Join us
Sunglasses on a sandy

Beating the heat

Coping with extreme weather and heat

What to wear: Clothes for the climate

Imagine you have a friend from another continent visiting the UK for one year. What ten items of clothing will they need and why?

What do these clothes tell us about climate in the UK?

What clothes do you have in your wardrobe?

How does our climate affect the choices you make when you are shopping for clothes?

Scorching summers, wetter winters

Most scientists agree that the UK’s climate is warming and that this is expected to continue. They have predicted different scenarios (an expected sequence of events) for temperature and precipitation changes by 2080.

There are two main scenarios depending on the future emissions of greenhouse gases: Low Emissions Scenario; and High Emissions Scenario.

Everyone needs to have access to the best estimates in order to make decisions on how to live their lives over the coming decades.

Download the chart to show how the climate will change in your area 

Once your chart is complete, use it to create a climate graph showing the predicted climate change for where you live. Choose either summer or winter figures and plot temperature changes as a line and precipitation changes as a bar graph.

Then, choose items of clothing to annotate different parts of the graph. Draw symbols to represent these and make a key. What items of clothing are we likely to need more in 2080? Are there any items that will no longer be needed?

Fact or fiction?

Read the 10 statements below and decide if each one is true or false. Amend the false statements and find evidence from your graph to justify your decision.

10 statements

  • The UK’s climate will not become warmer.

  • Summers may become wetter.

  • High factor sun cream will be widely used in winter 2080.

  • Very cold winters will be more frequent.

  • There will be greater warming in the south and east than in the north and west.

  • Ear-muffs will not be a necessity in 2080.

  • The High Emissions scenario estimates that London will be 10°C warmer in summer 2080.

  • Clothing manufacturers need to produce more waterproof trousers.

  • Winters may become wetter.

  • High summer temperatures will be more frequent.

The two scenarios suggest that average annual temperatures in the UK will increase by between 2.2°C and 3.5°C by 2080. This depends on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. In future we may also experience wetter winters and substantially drier summers.

Some conditions which we now consider highly unusual could become commonplace. For England and Wales, for example, a summer as hot as the one in 2006 may occur in two out of three years by 2080. Extremes in weather such as heavy rain, heat-waves and gales will also occur more frequently and with greater intensity.

Sea levels will also continue to rise around most of the UK’s shoreline. By 2080, sea level rise may be between 2cm below (Low Emissions) and 58cm above (High Emissions) the present level in Western Scotland; but between 26 and 28cm above the present level in southeast England.

And here is the weather…

Write a short weather forecast for your local newspaper. Imagine it is July/August 2006 during the heat-wave that affected all of the UK. Design symbols to use in your forecast. And give advice to readers on what to wear, and what to carry to stay healthy.

Extreme events

Read one or more articles from the five links below. They all describe how extreme weather has affected people’s lives.

Use the information to create three mind-maps on:
1.People who are affected
2.People who can make a difference
3.Ways the population can stay healthy.

Download the mind-map templates 

Role playing

Is clothing enough to protect you from rising temperatures and violent storms? What else do we need to consider, for example, the rising demand for electricity to power air conditioning in heat-waves?

Download the role cards 

Now, imagine it is summer 2080 and the worst case scenario of high emissions has happened. Divide into small groups and each take on one of the roles on the cards:

  • Paramedic

  • Minister for Health

  • Commuter

  • Older person

  • Ice-cream seller

  • Caterer

  • Electrician

Read through your role-card and prepare a two minute long presentation. Talk about how climate change is affecting your life. Include at least one advantage and one disadvantage. Go to Google and search for images to support your presentation (if you have time).

Then, listen to each others presentation and ask questions.

Changing lives: Winners and losers

Go to the activity, look at the table, and decide whose lives are most affected by climate change.

There are no right answers! Discuss reasons for your choices and make a note of them.

What can we do to lessen emissions to avoid this scenario? Think about what you have learnt in other sections.

Download the case study on how the Japanese are beating the heat

File nameFiles

File type



Beating the Heat Changing Lives: Winners and Losers Cool Biz


150 KB

Beating the Heat Changing Lives: Winners and Losers Cool Biz (1)


83 KB

Beating the Heat Changing Lives: Winners and Losers Movie


12 KB

Beating the Heat Clothes for the Climate Non-Interactive Version


151 KB

Beating the Heat Clothes for the Climate Non-Interactive Version (1)


173 KB

Beating the Heat Extreme Events Mind Map Template


49 KB

Beating the Heat Extreme Events Mind Map Template (1)


70 KB

Beating the Heat Role Playing Role Cards


85 KB

Beating the Heat Role Playing Role Cards (1)


75 KB

Beating the Heat Scorching Summers, Wetter Winters Chart


90 KB

Beating the Heat Scorching Summers, Wetter Winters Chart (1)


79 KB

Beating the Heat Teachers' Notes


48 KB

Beating the Heat Teachers' Notes (1)


153 KB

Beating the Heat What To Wear? Clothing for the Climate movie


245 KB

Download all files