EarthLabs > Drought > Lab Overviews

Drought: Lab Overviews

1. Where's the Water?
In this opening lab, you will explore graphics and analyze data about the distribution and availability of the world's fresh water. You will develop a sense of where the world's water is as well as where it's going.

2. What's a Watershed?
You will work in small groups to build simple physical models of a watershed then add model rain to observe and understand the flow of water across land. After working with the physical model, you will use Google Earth to explore a rich dataset that characterizes the watershed in which they live.

3. Normal Climate Patterns
You will explore your location's climate by generating a variety of graphs, charts, and map images. Then you will interpret a broad range of data visualizations to develop your understanding of normal climate.

4. When Precipitation Patterns Change
You will develop a practical definition of drought and explore the role of soil moisture in preventing or promoting it. Then you will learn to interpret precipitation imagery from the National Weather Service and streamflow data in Google Earth; you will use these datasets to predict where drought conditions are occurring then check their predictions by comparing them with a current drought monitor map.

5. Droughts of the Past
You will watch a classic PBS video on America's most famous drought and/or interact with the video's companion website. You will examine maps and animations that show the distribution of drought patterns over the past 300 years and explore graphics that show the amount of time different areas spend in drought.

6. Drying of the American West
Drought conditions in the Colorado River watershed are presented as a case study of drought. You will learn how changes in climate are reducing the amount of fresh water available in the river at the same time that population growth is increasing the demand for water. You will explore how decreasing inflows and increasing outflows threaten to empty major reservoirs on the Colorado River.

7. Is Your Region Ready for a Drought?
You will explore some of the economic, environmental, and social impacts of drought, and consider how they would impact your own community. Your class will stage a community meeting in which you will role play a range of water managers and water users to make drought preparedness plans for your community.

8. Drought Mitigation Trade-offs
You will research the costs and benefits of technologies that are used for drought mitigation. You will prepare physical models to illustrate the principles behind the methods and present their findings to your classmates, including making a recommendation if community should explore the technology further or not.