Ideas for Teaching

Teaching Quantitative Concepts in Floods and Flooding

This page by Dr. Eric Baer of Highline Community College examines several quantitative concepts that our students struggle with when thinking about floods and flooding.

  • the various ways that we measure the size or flow of a river,
  • the relationship between discharge and stage,
  • how a rise in flood stage leads to an area of inundation,
  • flood forecasts, probabilities, recurrence intervals and how to calculate them,
  • the meaning of a "100-year flood".

This work is integrated into the Teaching Quantitative Literacy module of the Teaching Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences website. Additional pages examine related quantitative concepts:


Vignettes are stand-alone, illustrated electronic case studies that teach about geomorphology, surface processes, and/or Quaternary history. They are short, place-based examples that allow instructors to customize their class' approach to learning. Click here to browse the full collection of Vignettes.

Comparative Planetology: The Geomorphology of Volatile Cycling and Catastrophic Flooding
This vignette compares and contrasts the fluvial and flood-formed landforms on three terrestrial bodies in our solar system: Earth, Mars, and Titan.

Assessing Future Flood Risks in the Taihu Basin, East China
The Taihu Basin region faces significant flood risks which are expected to increase over the next 50 years. The options for managing these future flood risks must balance effectiveness in reducing flood risk against cost-effectiveness, social justice and environmental sustainability criteria.

Flood-prone Low-lying Territories along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast
Low-lying areas which are strongly damaged by flooding and coastal erosion are at most at risk from climate change related sea level rise and this has implications for the sustainability of coastal systems and public safety. Furthermore, these problems have been exacerbated due to rapidly growing coastal population pressure, leading to poorly planned development of the hazard-prone areas.

Glacier lake outburst cascades and backwater lake formations in the Hindukush Mountains
Glacier lake outburst floods in the Hindukush-Karakoram Mountains are among the most important types of current geomorphological processes below an altitude of 4500 m.


Exploring USGS Peak Streamflow Data in the Classroom
This DataSheet is designed to help educators understand, navigate, and use the USGS database of real-time streamflow data. It describes the dataset itself, potential uses in teaching, and additional sources of information about the data and topic.

Learn more about DataSheets

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