Climate Change and Atlantic Hurricanes: A GIS Inquiry
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Students should have a basic understanding of hurricanes and the magnitude and types of climate change that have already occurred.
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- Understanding trends in hurricanes over time, relationships between wind speed, barometric pressure, and category.
- Identifying where hurricanes typically form.
Other concept goals: Students should be able to strategize how pose and then address and answer a question in order to test a hypothesis.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
- The numbers of hurricanes are increasing (or decreasing)
- Hurricanes are becoming more intense
- Hurricanes are forming in new locations
- Hurricane season is lengthening
Hypothesis 1 might lead to questions like "More hurricanes (or tropical storms) are forming each year" or "More hurricanes are striking land each year."To answer these questions would require students to understand some background about hurricanes, like how many typically occur in the past (which leads to questions about data collection and observing hurricanes), how hurricane intensity is measured, or at what latitudes hurricanes typically form.
Hypothesis 2 might lead to questions such as "The maximum wind speed for hurricanes is increasing" or "The minimum barometric pressure is decreasing."
Hypothesis 3 might lead to questions like "Hurricanes are forming further north."
Hypothesis 4 might lead to questions such as "Hurricanes are forming earlier and later."
Then they are given a table or map data (derived from NOAA GIS data of hurricane tracks and intensity) to test their hypotheses.
The results of their inquiries and data collection will be shared with the class as parts of small groups initially, and will culminate as a small group presentation.
Determining whether students have met the goals
- Develop appropriate pointed questions that they can use to answer their more general hypothesis
- Successfully use the data to address those questions
At the end of the exercise, they will present their results - essentially to answer their questions and report on whether their hypothesis was correct (and give evidence for that). In their final presentation, they will also be asked to evaluate their level of certainty, and what additional information and data they would need to become more certain. Future exercises could involve examining some additional data to continue the inquiry.
Teaching materials and tips
- Instructors Notes (Microsoft Word 37kB Oct24 08)