GETSI Teaching Materials >Modeling Flood Hazards
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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Modeling Flood Hazards


Summary

Flooding is an essential component of natural riverine ecosystems, yet is one of the most damaging and frequent natural hazards throughout the world. In this module, five units are provided that introduce students to 1) the physical concepts of flooding and its impact on natural environment and humans, 2) methods to estimate flood frequency, 3) using LIDAR to compute hydraulic properties of streams, 4) hydraulic modeling tools to map flood-prone areas for different return periods. A fifth unit guides students towards translating these probabilities and flow rates to flood risk in a culminating assignment. This module is intended for upper level geosciences and engineering students.

Strengths of the Module

  • This module merges conceptual ideas about flooding processes with quantitative tools to map and model flood flows. Students learn to use the US Army Corp of Engineer's HEC-RAS flood modeling program (Hydrologic Engineering Center's River Analysis System), an industry standard method for estimating flood hazards.
  • A culminating activity guides students through the process of translating scientific and engineering results to assessments of societal risk. This gives students a strong personal understanding of the consequences of floods and ties science learning with societal motivation.
  • By working through the units, students are exposed to each GETSI Guiding Principles. The module directly addresses geodesy-related grand challenges facing society by evaluating flood risk, which is among the most globally significant resource management issues we face. Lidar and other geodetic datasets are used to promote geoscientific methods of inquiry through landscape analysis activities. The systems-based integration of spatial datasets with temporal frequency analysis reinforces geoscientific habits of mind. Translating the scientific and engineering outcomes to societal risk requires critical interdisciplinary thinking. Students develop and employ quantitative skills to to define flood return periods, model flow properties for prescribed storms, and create inundation maps.

Great fit for 300- and 400-level classes in

  • Geomorphology
  • Geological hazards (Geohazards)
  • GIS
  • Remote Sensing
  • Geostatistics
  • Environmental Data Analysis
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Hydrology

Instructor Stories: How This Module Was Adapted
for Use at Two Different Institutions »





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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »