Lab Overviews

1. Exploring Meteorological Monsters
Students make an in-depth exploration of a visualization showing the active 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. They develop questions based upon their observations, and in doing so, outline the topics of study for the remainder of the unit.

2. Hurricane Anatomy

Students examine a variety of hurricane visualizations to identify basic storm structures plus wind and precipitation patterns.

3. Putting Hurricanes on the Calendar
Students examine HURDAT, the official record of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean from 1851 through today. They import, sort, and graph a variety of parameters to characterize the historical record of tropical storms and identify the dates for hurricane season.

4. Putting Hurricanes on the Map
Students select a storm from the HURDAT database and generate a storm track for it using placemarks in Google Maps. They also explore the effects of their storm by consulting the NHC Summary Report for that storm. Finally, they use one of NOAA's online mapping tools to examine the track and development of hundreds of storms.
Tools Needed: Google Earth, NOAA's Historical Hurricane Viewer

5. All About Air Pressure
Students engage in hands-on experiments and demonstrations of the effects of differences in air pressure.
Tools Needed: Laboratory Equipment

6. Why Keep an Eye on the Barometer?
Students compare air pressure and wind speed for Hurricane Katrina and for the entire 2005 hurricane season. From the data, they make an estimate of the minimum air pressure that might result in hurricane-force winds of 65 knots or higher.
Tools Needed: Excel

7. Hurricanes and Heat Transfer
Students do quantitative laboratory experiments to investigate physical processes of heat transfer and phase transitions.
Tools Needed: Laboratory Equipment

8. What Does the Ocean Have to do with Hurricanes?

Students examine the ocean's role in powering hurricanes. They consider sea surface temperature and sea surface height as measures of energy available to hurricanes. They examine the path of Katrina and the energy available during the storm's duration.

Tools Needed: NOAA View Data Exploration Tool, Google Earth

9. Death and Destruction: The Dangers of Hurricanes
Students examine photos or videos of hurricane damage and read reports to find out the major causes of death in hurricanes. They explore the 4 main hazards of hurricanes and make an outline of how to prepare themselves should they ever find themselves faced with the task of surviving one of these storms.

Optional Real-Time Investigation
Should a hurricane develop during or after students have completed this unit, they can apply their understanding of hurricanes to monitor amd make predictions about the track, intensity, and impacts of the storm. Using real-time data from NOAA, students can develop their own forecasts and compare them to those made by NOAA's National Hurricane Prediction Center.