Eyes on the Hydrosphere: Tracking Water Resources
This module introduces students to the basics of the hydrologic cycle but in a way that engages them with both societal challenges related to water and methods for measuring the water system. The data used in the module includes both traditional (ex. stream gages) and geodetic methods (ex. gravity satellites). Students also use real data to identify trends and extremes in precipitation and water storage. It is intended to require ~2-3 weeks of class to use in its entirety. It includes individual and group work, reading, reflection, and working with data on the computer. In the final exercise, students are able to investigate water resources a region of interest to them.
Webinar about teaching this module: Teaching About the Water Cycle with Data-rich Water Resources Activities
For a majors-level module on water resources, please see Measuring Water Resources with GPS, Gravity, and Traditional Methods
Strengths of the Module
- This module presents an impactful yet accessible introduction to how the water cycle works, how humans rely on water resources, and how we monitor those resources. The module includes a mixed-methods approach. In- and out-of-class assignments are used to guide students through a series of hands-on exercises, including: construction of a water cycle diagram, a jigsaw exercise where student 'experts' teach each other about measurement techniques, and a computer-based exercise wherein students analyze real hydrologic data to detect short- and long-term hydrologic variability in multiple climate zones.
- Materials are provided to students in such a way that they can focus on the Earth Science concepts while building their data analysis and interpretation skills.
- This module is specifically constructed to be accessible to introductory-level students with minimal prior training in Earth Science.
- The final exercise in the module gives students an opportunity to investigate the water resources in an area of interest to them. They research typical water challenges for that area and look at one or more water-related data sets.
- Overall students are introduced to a broad range of both traditional and newer geodetic methods. These include stream gauges, groundwater wells, snow pillows, vertical GPS changes, reflection GPS for snow depth, and GRACE satellite (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment).
Great fit for Introductory-level classes in
- Environmental Science
- Earth Science
- Weather / Climate
Table of Contents
- Instructor Materials: Overview of the Understanding Our Changing Climate Module
- Unit 1: Exploring the Reservoirs and Pathways and Methods to Measure the Hydrologic Cycle
- Unit 2: Monitoring Surface and Groundwater Supply in Central and Western US
- Unit 3: What's in YOUR watershed?
- Student Materials
- Instructor Stories
- Join the Community