For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Unit 1. Hazard and Risk
In this unit, you will learn the difference between hazard and risk. Using an example, you will learn the various ways risks can be mitigated.
- Everyday activities such as driving bring risk, but so does having your dream house on the beach. This essay by Jared Diamond will introduce you to the concept of risk in our daily lives. As you read, consider:
- What do you think is the hazard you will encounter most frequently this week?
- What can you do, as an individual, to reduce risk from that hazard?
- If the hazard you identified is not a natural hazard, which natural hazard do you think poses the greatest risk to you and others in your town?
- Video of Jared Diamond discussing New Guinean perception of risk.
- The United Nations website on Natural Hazards and Risk Reduction includes an informative video.
- Calculate your risk of flooding with an interactive tool. The federal government has a similar tool for calculating flood risk.
- In a real-world application of risk calculations, the Department of Motor Vehicles explains how insurance companies calculate risk.
Unit 2. Hurricane Formation
In this unit, you will learn how hurricanes form from the interaction of the oceans, atmosphere, and land. You will also use data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to make predictions about hurricane landfall.
- This video explains the fundamental concepts of hurricane formation.
- NOAA forecasts make hurricanes among the best-predicted natural hazards. Read this National Hurricane Center website: Definition of the NHC Track Forecast Cone to learn about forecast cones and the uncertainty associated with them.
- Additional resources:
- With the game "Create-a-Cane" from the National Hurricane Center, review your understanding of the conditions needed for hurricane formation. Make sure you follow all the steps until you create a Category 5 Hurricane!
- For a more advanced treatment of uncertainty cones from NOAA, read the paper: Accuracy of United States Tropical Cyclone Landfall Forecasts in the Atlantic Basic (1976-2000) by Powell and Aberson (2001).
- If you are interested in learning why forecast uncertainty cones are misunderstood, read this at Slate.com: "In Hurricane Forecasts, 'Cone of Uncertainty' Is Surrounded by Haze of Confusion."
Unit 3. Hurricane Tracks
In this unit, you will follow hurricane paths and figure out how much energy a hurricane releases.
- On this NOAA Hurricane Tracker, click "Set Location" and then click on your hometown. See how many hurricanes have passed near your town. Experiment with different search areas and hurricane sizes. Are you surprised by the number of hurricanes that have come close to your hometown in your lifetime? (If you are not in an East or Gulf Coast state, try Concord, New Hampshire.)
- Additional resources:
Unit 4. Hurricane Impacts
Hurricanes can devastate a coastal area and can also cause serious problems inland.
- Look at this satellite image and read about some of the unexpected impacts of Hurricane Irene in 2011.
- Additional resources:
- Read NASA Satellites Watch Hurricane Sandy, about how NASA tracked Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
- Read about how the USGS is using LIDAR topography data to measure coastal change from a hurricane.
- Learn more background about barrier islands from Professor Lindley S. Hanson at Salem State University.
Unit 5. Hurricane Risks and Coastal Development
In this unit, you will learn about hurricane preparedness and examine how risks from coastal development have changed over time .
- The Times-Picayune reported on the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one of the costliest and deadliest hurricanes in the United States.
The New York Times published an article about the risks that come with rebuilding our shores (Gillis, 2013).
Unit 6. Prediction and Evacuations
As a hurricane approaches, officials making the decision to order an evacuation must use complex but uncertain data and weigh the interests of many stakeholders. On the one hand, unnecessary evacuations cost money and public confidence in officials. On the other hand, failure to evacuate can cost lives, money, and public confidence in officials. In this final unit, you will consider the many stakeholders in an evacuation decision. Being able to consider multiple perspectives is an important skill for many of the challenges our society faces.
- What would you do if you heard a hurricane was coming to your town in three days? This reading from the New York Times was published as Tropical Storm Issac approached the Gulf in August 2012 and provides a variety of perspectives on evacuation. As you read:
- Make a list of the different stakeholders represented.
- Consider what stakeholders are not included in the reading.