Part 3—Explore Sabino Canyon's Features

Step 1 –
Explore the Sabino Canyon Watershed in Google Earth

Tucson is located in southern Arizona. Click the image for a larger view.
Over one-third of the world's surface is considered arid or semi-arid, including one-quarter of the U.S. mainland. In this chapter, you will examine a semi-arid watershed in southern Arizona, near Tucson. You will discover the relationship between seasonal precipitation and streamflow in the watershed. The Sabino Canyon watershed is nestled in the front range of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, a densely populated metropolis of nearly one million people. Sabino Creek and its recreation area are a main attraction to visitors of this desert city.

ge_win_icon

  1. Launch Google Earth by clicking on its icon on your dock (Mac) or on the Start menu (PC).

  2. Choose File > Open..., then navigate to where you saved the Sabino_Creek.kmz file in the Monsoon Data folder. Select the file and click Open.
    Choose File > Open..., then navigate to where you saved the Sabino_Creek.kmz file in the Monsoon Data folder. Select the file and click Open.


    Your map will open showing Sabino Creek from an aerial view. The creek is shown as a blue line on your Google Earth map. Examine the location of the creek, and the shape of the mountains and landscape (topography) around the creek.


  3. Next, navigate to where you saved the Sabino_Canyon_Watershed.kmz file in the Monsoon Data folder. Choose File > Open... to open the file. You should see the entire area that includes the Sabino Canyon watershed (shaded pink) on your map, in addition to Sabino Creek. Any precipitation that falls inside the boundary of the Sabino Canyon watershed will exit the watershed by way of a common outletthe Sabino Creek drainage.


  4. Turn on the Photos database, located in the Layers panel in the lower left-hand corner of the Google Earth window. You should see several Photo markers (they will appear as blue dots or camera icons) on your map. These Photo markers represent locations where visitors to the area took photographs.
  5. Click on any of the Photo markers in and around Sabino Creek and its watershed to view photographs of the landscape in the canyon. These photographs will allow you to visually explore the watershed in more detail.
  6. After you have explored some of the photographs taken in the canyon, activate Show terrain from the Google Earth Preferences Window.
  7. Use the Tilt and Rotate tools located in the upper-right corner of the Google Earth map to explore the topography around Sabino Creek.



    Slide the zoom function slider downward to zoom out for a broader view of an area.



    • Which direction does stream water flow in Sabino Creek?
      The creek flows from north to south, from a higher elevation to a lower elevation.
  8. Finally, open the Rillito_Subbasin.kmz file located in the Monsoon Data folder. Note how much larger this watershed is than the Sabino Canyon watershed.
    The Sabino Canyon watershed is a small watershed situated within the larger Rillito watershed, or subbasin. There are many small watersheds within the Rillito subbasin. In fact, there are many watersheds that are situated within the Santa Catalina Mountains alone, all of which have their own separate drainages or creeks that drain water out of each watershed. Next, you will examine how the Sabino Canyon watershed compares to some of the other watersheds in the Santa Catalinas.
  9. Quit Google Earth and do not save changes.

Step 2 –
Launch My World and Compare the Area of Sabino Canyon to Similar, Nearby Watersheds

My World Icon
  1. Launch My World by double-clicking its icon on your desktop or by clicking its icon in the dock (Mac) or Start menu (PC).
  2. Choose File > Open Project..., then navigate to the sabino_watershed.m3vz project file. It should be located in the My World GIS data folder.
    Navigate to the folder where you stored the My World project. In this case the file path is: ...data/ Projects/sabino_watershed.m3vz.

    When the map launches, the view shows the major streets in the city of Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains to the northeast of the city.



  3. Turn on (show) the Catalina Watersheds layer.
    To hide or show a layer, click in the box to the right of the layer name in the Layer List. An eye will appear in the box when the layer is showing.
    show_catalina_watersheds


    In the image below, the Catalina Watersheds layer is on.


  4. Activate the Catalina Watersheds layer.
    Activate Catalina Watersheds


    To activate a layer, click anywhere inside the box surrounding the layer name in the Layer List. Active layers are highlighted in white. This allows for more in-depth investigations of the layer data.
    In the image below, the Catalina Watersheds layer is on and active.


  5. Click the Show Table button at the top of the Layer List. This opens the Table of the Active layer.
    Click the Table of the Active Layer button to open the table.
    show_table_EET


    The Table of Layer "Catalina Watershed" is open in the image below.

  6. When the table is open, click the Area (computed) m2 field name (in the top row of the table) to sort the rows in ascending and descending order (greatest to least). List the names and areas of the three largest watersheds in the Santa Catalina mountains in the table below. Round the area to the nearest million m2 (1,000,000).
  7. Watershed name Area (m2) Highest annual precipitation received (cm)
    your answers here
    your answers here
    your answers here

    Click on the header to sort the data, ascending, descending, or unsorted.
  8. Once you have sorted the table, select the three largest watersheds.
    • Click anywhere in the first row of the layer table and then drag the pointer down to select the first three rows. These rows will be highlighted blue when selected properly.
    • Choose Make Selection From Rows at the top of the table.
    • Accept the default name for the selection and click OK. The table will automatically close.
    • Choose Hide Unselected in the Highlight Mode drop-down list under the Catalina Watersheds layer name. Now only the three largest watersheds in the Santa Catalina Mountains should be highlighted on your map.
  9. Learn more about your selection.
    • Click the Get Information Tool to activate it.
      get info tool

    • Then click each of the three watersheds to identify and familiarize yourself with their names.
      Their names are: Tanque Verde Canyon, Canada del Oro, and Sabino Canyon.
    • When you are done exploring, close the Get Information window.

Step 3 –
Discover the Amount of Precipitation in the Canyon

  1. Discover the amount of precipitation in the canyon.
    • Hide (turn off) the Shaded Relief Map layer. Note: you may need to scroll down to view all the available layers.
    • Show (turn on) the Precipitation (cm/yr) layer. This layer shows the annual precipitation, in centimeters, received in Tucson and surrounding areas.

    • Activate the Precipitation (cm/yr) layer.
    • Use the the Get Information Tool and click on the zone of highest precipitation within each of the three watersheds to determine the maximum precipitation received in that watershed each year.
      In the image below, the Precipitation (cm/yr) layer is on and active.


  2. Enter the highest precipitation amount (in centimeters) received in each watershed in Table 1. above.
    Watershed name Area (m2) Highest annual precipitation received (cm)
    Tanque Verde Canyon 112,000,000 58
    Canada del Oro East 87,000,000 94
    Sabino Canyon 87,000,000 89
  3. When you are done, close the Get Information window.

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