Initial Publication Date: August 17, 2010 | Reviewed: October 22, 2012

Coastal Flooding Assessment

Eric B. Grosfils, Pomona College


Students are introduced to Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst, and use these tools to perform a flooding analysis for the Long Beach area of California.


Type and level of course
Used in an introductory RS/GIS course with no specific prerequisites.

Geoscience background assumed in this assignment

GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment
Students have a working familiarity with ArcView, but have not yet used the Spatial Analyst or 3D Analyst extensions.

Software required for this assignment/activity:
The assignment was prepared for ArcView 9.2 with the Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst extensions (but could be done without the latter).

Time required for students to complete the assignment:
3-6 hours


GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment
Introduce students to data manipulation and analysis using Spatial Analyst, and to 3D display visualization options (and challenges)

Other content/concepts goals for this activity
While the topic can only be addressed to a first order in an exercise like this, the geoscience intent is to draw attention to the minimal impacts expected from different kinds of coastal flooding scenarios, including seismogenic (and other) tsunamis and warming-related effects.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Students link flooding extents to human population distribution in the Long Beach area, assessing the impacts in both quantitative and qualitative terms. They also compare their results to those of an online flooding web site to assess the accuracy of the latter, etc.

Description of the activity/assignment

Drawing on IPCC warming scenarios, recent seismogenic and hurricane-related flooding events, web-derived resources and related literature, students familiar with ArcView assess different flooding events and their impact upon the population of the Long Beach area of California. They then extend what they have learned to assess flooding at a major city of their choice anywhere on the globe. These questions are used to introduce students to data manipulation, analysis and display using the Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst extensions.

Determining whether students have met the goals

A large component of the evaluation is visual: have students been able to manipulate the spatial data (for different levels of flooding, etc.) correctly using Spatial Analyst? The remainder is focused on critical assessment of both societal impact within the Long Beach area and data served by a Google-served flooding web site.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.

URLs and References

please see assignment

please see assignment

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Coastal Flooding Assessment -- Discussion  

Join the Discussion

Log in to reply