Resources for Teachers

The webpages of hopefully provide a useful information resource for both students and teachers. However, there are also lots of free downloads and interactive resources available on the internet. This webpage has a number of resources suitable for GCSE and A-Level Geography and Geoscience teachers.

There are more ideas for student projects on the Geography A-Level Projects page. You can also see the Essay Questions page for more ideas.

Field trips

Quaternary Research Association

The QRA is the UK organisation for the study of the Quaternary. It is a friendly association of academics, graduate students and interested members of the public. There are many school teacher members, and school teachers are very welcome to join.

Annual membership is just £20.  Members are able to participate in the two or three annual fieldtrips to different parts of the UK, attend the QRA conferences and short discussion meetings, and receive the Quaternary Newsletter journal and the QRA Circular.

Most usefully for teachers, the QRA publish a short field guide for each field trip. This contains information about the Quaternary history of the site, including glaciation. Want to lead a field trip to Gower or Norfolk? There’s a guide for that. Want to visit Teesdale or the Pennines? There’s a guide for that. These excellent resources provide all the information you need to run a field trip. Members get a discount on the list price.

QRA Fieldtrip to Teesdale, May 2017

Text books

If you want to brush up on your own glaciological knowledge, then there are hundreds of text books to choose from. However, two of the best are:

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report has numerous datasets about glaciers, ice caps and climate change, all of which are relevant to the schools curriculum. The Summary for Policy Makers is quick and digestible.  If you want more detail, there is a whole chapter on Observations: Cryosphere.

GIS Resources


BRITICE is a brand new (published late 2017) database of all the glacial landforms in Britain. It includes all you need to know about the last glaciation of Britain. There’s an accompanying paper that explains the landforms, maps you can buy or download and print yourself, and best of all, a huge GIS database that you can download and explore for free.  If you don’t use a GIS, you can use the free app to explore the landforms near where you live.

BRITICE V2 (Clark et al., 2017)

Journal of Maps

There are a number of papers on Journal of Maps which are of excellent use in teaching glaciology.

Hughes et al. 2010a provide an excellent map of subglacial bedforms of the last British Ice Sheet (included in the BRITICE V2 database) and a downloadable database of all the published ages constraining the deglaciation of Britain (Hughes et al 2010b).

The Glacial Map of Southern South America (Glasser and Jansson, 2008) is freely accessible and shows all the glacial features in southern South America.

DATED-1 Database

This open-access publication, again led by Anna Hughes (Hughes et al. 2016), provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive reconstruction yet of the last British and European ice sheets. The authors also provide GIS shapefiles of the reconstruction for you to peruse.

DATED Database, by Hughes et al. 2016

DATED-1 Database (Hughes et al. 2016). Click to view animation.


This is a free GIS app that you can use to explore the glaciers and sea ice around Antarctica. Quantarctica is easy to use ,and includes base maps, satellite imagery, glaciology and geophysics data from data centres around the world, prepared for viewing in QGIS.


Google Earth

Google Earth has fabulous satellite images of Antarctica, Iceland, Patagonia, the UK and everywhere else in the world. It lets you explore the continent from the comfort of your sofa. There are fabulous images of crevasses, glaciers, moraines and more.  Google Earth pro allows you to map directly in Google Earth, so you could set a task identifying and mapping moraines, for example.

Drumlins around lago Viedma, South Patagonian Icefield. The background image is Landsat 7 ETM+ from 2001. Mapped in Google Earth Pro.

Explore Scott’s hut through the Google World Wonders project.

WGMS Fluctuations of Glaciers

The World Glacier Monitoring Service has created, in association with ESRI ArcGIS, a browser for investigating the fluctuations of glaciers.

The data are overlain on Google Earth imagery, but you can also choose Bing roads, OpenStreetMap and a variety of other basemaps.

When you zoom into an area, you see circles with numbers in. Clicking on these circles brings up a popup with information about the glacier, including glacier length change over time. Clicking on the graph opens it fully in another tab. This is a really interactive way of learning all about glacier length fluctuations and glacier recession over time. How fast are glaciers receding? Where are they receding fastest? Get the students to think about how the data are created, how reliable the data are, and how consistent the story of glacier recession is.

IBCSO (International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean)

IBCSO bathymetric charts

IBCSO bathymetric charts

The IBCSO website provides information on sea floor topography. Users can download a PDF chart or Geotiff data of the entire ocean floor.

Access the data.

When using any data from the IBCSO project please cite:

Arndt, J.E., H. W. Schenke, M. Jakobsson, F. Nitsche, G. Buys, B. Goleby, M. Rebesco, F. Bohoyo, J.K. Hong, J. Black, R. Greku, G. Udintsev, F. Barrios, W. Reynoso-Peralta, T. Morishita, R. Wigley, “The International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) Version 1.0 – A new bathymetric compilation covering circum-Antarctic waters”, Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/grl.50413

Quaternary Glaciations: Extent and Chronology

This book by Elsevier (Ehlers and Gibbard, 2011; Quaternary Glaciations: extent and chronology, a closer look) is rather expensive, but they have made the GIS data and maps freely available  to anyone. You can download the shapefiles of the Last Glacial Maximum for the whole world from the Booksite. I made the map below quickly just using the files provided on the Booksite.

Ice sheets at the Last Glacial Maximum worldwide, around 27,000 to 21,000 years ago. From Ehlers and Gibbard, 2011.

Randolph Glacier Inventory

From the Randolph Glacier Inventory you can download GIS shapefiles for all the glaciers in the world. Set a practical exploring the glaciers of different parts of the world, or compare the glaciers to the LGM mapped in the Quaternary Glaciations: extent and chronology book.

Overlay the glaciers on satellite images (e.g. Landsat images are freely available from NASA) for a wonderfully immersive practical for the students.

GLIMS/RGI Glaciers showing current worldwide glacier extent.


Nasa produce thousands of satellite images and make them freely available. Use EarthExplorer to find satellite images.

An easier way to do it might be to use the Image of the Day feature on the NASA website. These images often are GeoTiffs that can be downloaded straight into a GIS for analysis and mapping. Here is a great example of the North Patagonian Icefield.

In the higher resolution image from the website, the moraines and geomorphic features around the ice mass are clearly visible, and are easily mapped directly in the GIS.

North Patagonian Icefield from NASA’s Image of the Day

There are lots of great pages for you to explore here. For example, here is an explainer, with figures, of the Larsen Ice Shelf collapse.

LIMA: Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica

A number of maps of Antarctica are available to download and print off for free from LIMA. They include the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica, a beautiful map you can explore in a GIS.

Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA) showing location of key ice shelves. Figure by Bethan Davies

Digital Elevation Models

Get the students doing interactive practicals using the glaciers downloaded from the RGI overlain on a Landsat image or an ASTER GDEM.

This is a free, global DEM that gives high-quality digital elevation data.

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) also provides free global digital elevation data.

Interactive apps and models

Interactive glacier models

Get the students playing with one of these simple, browser-based interactive glacier models, and understanding concepts such as ablation, accumulation, glacier advance and recession and glacier mass balance.

NASA JPL Virtual Earth System Laboratory

The folks at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a suite of simulations of glaciers, ice sheets and sea level that you can explore at the Virtual Earth System Laboratory. These simulations use real model physics to calculate changes in the ice mass over time.

Preview of Columbia Glacier simulation

Columbia Glacier model from the NASA JPL Virtual Earth System Laboratory

Things to think about: How does changing the surface mass balance (SMB) affect glacier thickness and length? How long does it take to reach a new equilibrium (i.e. what’s the response time?). How does changing the SMB affect melting across the glacier?

IceFlows game

The new IceFlows game (Exeter University) allows students to experiment with ice flow of an ice shelf in Antarctica, and learn about the Antarctic ice sheet.

The Iceflows Game uses real ice physics to demonstrate how ice shelves flow and melt.

Sea level rise

There are a number of interactive student resources on sea level rise.

Films and videos

Time for Geography

This excellent website has a number of videos explaining key processes and geomorphic features of Britain. It is produced by academics at a wide range of universities, and includes “knowledge boosters” on a range of subjects, including Glaciation, Waterfalls, Coasts and much more.

Films about Climate Change and Glaciers

There are a number of excellent climate change documentaries and films publicly available for little investment.

  • Thin Ice talks about climate change from the scientists’ perspectives. The website has many resources, including extra clips and information. The film can be rented and watched online for NZ$5 and downloaded for NZ$10.
  • Chasing Ice uses stunning repeat photography to characterise glacial recession over several years. The film is available to download from iTunes.
  • Operation Iceberg is a BBC documentary that follows the exploits of scientists in Greenland. Stunning visuals are combined with exciting feats of bravery for compelling viewing.


YouTube is an outstanding teaching resource, with thousands of videos explaining all aspects of glaciology. Here are some of my favourites:


Glaciers Online

The Glaciers Online website has an excellent photo-glossary that you can encourage the students to explore.

Other web resources

See more suggestions on my Links page.

Making Glaciers

One way to get students involved and engaged is to get them to make a glacier using Glacier Goo. This tried and tested method is fun and exciting, and you can encourage the students to think about deformation and glacier movement processes, as well as ablation and accumulation.

Making glacier goo flow down a mountain that we made out of papier machee

There are many glacier goo recipes around. The National Association of Geoscience Teachers has some good resources.

Purchase printed maps

You can buy lots of maps of Antarctica cheaply from the British Antarctic Survey. You can also browse and purchase photographs.

Share this

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.