InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Coastal Processes, Hazards and Society > Section 2: Introduction to Coastal Zone Hazards - Processes of Change and their Impacts
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free 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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Long- and Short-term Processes of Change and Their Impacts on Society

Authors: Sean Cornell and Diane Maygarden

Summary and Overview

Understanding sea-level change is not as simple as it is sometimes made out to be. This section helps expose students to key concepts of sea-level change including the difference between tides, and eustatic and relative sea-level change across various time scales (daily, monthly, etc.), and within various tectonic settings. Students will access and use tidal data records collected over many years, and methods used by scientists to investigate long-term trends in tidal data sets. To do this, students will utilize Microsoft Excel to generate tide through time plots, determine average tidal range, and calculate long-term rates of average sea-level change. Students will also generate an equation that will be used to predict or forecast sea-level positions in the future so that they can better assess impacts of sea-level change on coastal communities where their data sets have been collected.

Strengths of the Section

The principal focus of Section 2 is to build on our understanding of coastal processes as covered in Section 1 in order to explore in more detail the hazards that impact coastlines and their communities. Our primary emphasis will be on developing the following skills:

  • proficiency in the use of spreadsheets to manage, sort, visualize, and query readily available tidal records to determine patterns of sea-level change in coastal regions around the world;
  • ability to assess whether sea-level is changing (either rising, or falling) at various points around the world, and to calculate the relative rate of change; and
  • ability to forecast how recent trends in sea level will play out in the future at various time increments. This will enable students to better evaluate the impact of sea-level change on coastal communities.

Context

This section serves as the first of two three-week cores of the semester-long course, Coastal Processes, Hazards and Society. The course focuses on geology, hazards, engineering, and policy, and the main foci of this section are on the geology and hazards components of the course. Although it is intended for use as a component of the full online or blended course, it could potentially be used on its own as a component of a different course, and its modules can be used individually.

Section Goals

The goal of this section is to explore the processes that cause sea-level change, hurricanes, and tsunami, and the factors that render certain parts of the coastline more vulnerable to these hazards than others. In working through the materials, students will be able to:

  • Develop the fundamental geospatial (linking geography and geology) skills and concepts needed to assess the coastal processes and hazards discussed in this course; and
  • Link geologic time and current shoreline processes in order to explain the past and present evolution of coastline morphology.

Section Outline

Assessment

This section consists of three modules. Assessments are described under the individual modules.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. 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 »