Earth Science, Major Storms and Community Resilience

Friday 2:45pm REC Center Medium Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Sustainability and the Environment


Lisa Doner, Plymouth State University
Lorraine Motola, Metropolitan College of New York
Patricia Stapleton, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Extreme major storms (hurricanes, winter storms) have large impacts on the communities that lay in their path. Recent examples include Hurricane and Tropical Storms Katrina (2005), Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012), and the additive effects of winter storms in 2015, 2011, 2010 and 2005. Introductory geology classes may cover classic geologic hazards like earthquakes, volcanoes, river floods and landslides but are unlikely to cover earth surface responses to atmospheric hazards like severe storms. Transient physical earth variables, such as season, tidal conditions and surface temperature, often enhance the severity of impact from storms. These short-duration conditions may have combined impacts that leave geologic deposits, affect geomorphology and alter community perceptions of natural hazard. 20th Century climate change, driven by large-scale forcing of earth surface processes, is predicted to increase the global frequency of heavy rains and icing events, freak storms, and severe weather. Risk factors generated by historical trend analyses are longer accurate for large-scale, extreme, economically destructive events.

These facts point to increased need for geoscience training in interdisciplinary aspects of hazard science and policy. Through InTeGrate's 5-year, NSF-funded STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP) Center grant, we're developing a Major Storms and Community Resilience Module. The intent of this team effort is to prepare students from many different disciplines to be well informed about potential risks, effective mitigation, and response strategies to major storms. This portion of the module relates to the integration of these concepts into an Introductory Geology course. In the module, students use high-profile events as case studies to illustrate these storm-related risk and resilience measures. The case studies require them to explore storm preparedness in their own region, to conduct research on storm events and local impacts and to use a Town Hall Meeting approach to assess emergency-preparedness and potential resilience for their own communities.

Presentation Media

Doner et al - Major Storms Module (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 7.1MB Jul17 15)