InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes > Instructor Materials: Module Overview > Unit 4: Hurricane Impacts
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Unit 4: Hurricane Impacts

Lisa Gilbert (Williams College), Josh Galster (Montclair State University), Joan Ramage (Lehigh University)

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.

Overview

Students quantitatively investigate the impacts of hurricanes on coastal landforms and river flows.

Science and Engineering Practices

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships. MS-P4.2:

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. HS-P4.1:

Cross Cutting Concepts

Cause and effect: Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. MS-C2.2:

Stability and Change: Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible. HS-C7.2:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes: Water’s movements—both on the land and underground—cause weathering and erosion, which change the land’s surface features and create underground formations. MS-ESS2.C5:

Natural Hazards: Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region, combined with an understanding of related geologic forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events. MS-ESS3.B1:

  1. This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

    • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
    • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
    • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
    • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
    • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.

  2. This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

    Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

    • Scientific Accuracy
    • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
    • Pedagogic Effectiveness
    • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
    • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

    For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.



This page first made public: Aug 15, 2014

Summary

This unit has three options for 40-minute activities that address hurricane impacts. Alternatively, if time allows, all three could be used in sequence. Activity 4.1 includes a presentation on the terrestrial impacts of hurricanes and is mostly based on what happened when Hurricane Irene (2011) and Superstorm Sandy (2012) made landfall. This can be used as a presentation or as a topic for student-led in-class discussion. Activity 4.2 is an in-class activity: groups of students work together to make observations from before and after pictures of the same site and describe the type and magnitude of changes to the areas. Activity 4.3 explores the relationship between rainfall, river flow, and hurricanes, which has been relevant in both coastal and perhaps more importantly (and surprisingly) inland areas of the northeastern United States during recent hurricanes.

Learning Goals

After completing this unit students will be able to:

  • Identify specific inland hazards that can accompany hurricanes (landslides, flooding, damage to infrastructure), especially inland.
  • Observe and quantify changes by using before and after storm images.

This unit relates to the following Earth Science Literacy Big Ideas:

  • Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
  • Learning about some of the real data that scientists use to determine types and extent of impacts and damage (for example, stream discharge, aerial photos, satellite images, airborne lidar), and how these data are combined, are important aspects of the process of science.

Context for Use

This unit provides in-depth information and comparisons for hurricane impacts on the shore and inland. These activities may be used with the Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes module, or as a stand-alone unit on hurricane impacts. The unit may be used in any course discussing natural hazards, or can be modified to fit a variety of earth, atmospheric, and marine science courses. The unit is appropriate for an exploration of impacts in an introductory-level college course or as the basis for more in-depth discussions of on hurricane impacts and measurements for upper-level students. For Activity 4.2, students should be familiar with river discharge and how tributaries feed water into the main branch of a river.

Description and Teaching Materials

Activity 4.1 Overview of Hurricane Impacts on Inland Environments

Begin by asking students to contribute to a list on the board of the effects of hurricanes. (Write down all answers with no judgment, and save list.)

Present this PowerPoint on terrestrial impacts of hurricanes to highlight the diversity of impacts on communities when a hurricane makes landfall: 4.1 slides on hurricane impacts (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 25.2MB Sep26 14)

Use the assessments below as discussion points, think-pair-share, or in-class writing/quiz.

End by returning to the list of hurricane effects. Ask students to revise the list (write down the additional answers in another color or column), and then ask students to write on their own what surprised them most about the effects of hurricanes.

Activity 4.2 Observations of Coastal Change (North Carolina)

First, introduce LIDAR data and how they are used in geosciences, with these slides: Introductory slides about coastal change dataset (PowerPoint 1.3MB Aug26 14). Use the sample data set PDF format for LIDAR intro slides (Acrobat (PDF) 1.3MB Aug27 14) to show pre-storm topography, post-storm topography, and changes (difference between the two).

Then, have students work on one or more of the example sites (below, both PowerPoint and PDF formats are included) making their own observations. Based on a US Geological Survey (USGS) website and data about changes from Hurricane Irene, the files below include images of the data that students can use in print or electronic format. Each of the slide sets includes an overview map, an aerial photograph pair of before and after the storm, and four co-registered images of the topography and change. For assessing student results, we also included the USGS caption with main changes. Note that on the difference images, values that are warm (positive) are actually erosional features due to the way the image differencing was done.

Activity 4.3 Observations of Inland Flooding Impacts (New Jersey)

This presentation (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 7.6MB Aug26 14) shows data from USGS river gages in New Jersey and how Hurricane Irene (and somewhat Hurricane Lee and another storm the next month) affected them. The data are presented as relative to previous historic records and show where Irene set new river discharge records. One set of rivers, the Delaware, Passaic, and Pompton, are presented. The Passaic and Pompton show an intriguing relationship: the tributary, the Pompton River, has a higher peak discharge from Irene than the gauge downstream on the Passaic. This is a good example of having students think about preconceived notions of how tributaries and rivers operate. Through examining, even qualitatively in the presentation, the volume of the discharges it is clear that the downstream Passaic River has more discharge than the tributary feeding it, the Pompton.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This unit (Activities 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3) is designed so that most instructors can either choose one of these example activities or divide the class into groups where different groups each do one of the analyses and then report back.

Assessment

  1. How would experiencing above-average precipitation in the weeks before a hurricane affect flooding?

    Full streams and rivers will not be able to absorb much extra rain from the hurricane, leading to likely flooding.

  2. Examine this image of New York Harbor days after Irene has passed. Describe how Earth operates as a system and how the hydrosphere and atmosphere impact the solid lithosphere:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=51975

    A complete answer should address how the atmosphere releases rain to the lithosphere, which then erodes and sends sediment into the hydrosphere via rivers and back out to sea.

    Direct students to list the effects of hurricanes (and/or Irene in particular) that students could name before this activity. End by returning to the list of hurricane effects. Ask students to revise the list (write down the additional answers in another color or column), and then ask students to write on their own what surprised them most about the effects of hurricanes.

Additionally, for Activity 4.1

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) held public meetings to present two alternatives for the long-term Rodanthe bridge and gather feedback (January 7, 8 and 9, 2014, in Ocracoke, Rodanthe, Buxton and Manteo): the NCDOT handout has some interesting background and could be modified for a more extensive discussion of community involvement in planning.

Additionally, for Activity 4.2

Students should sketch (or label) the areas of major landscape change due to the storm. Answers will vary by data set. Descriptions of each area's change are included in the notes of the PowerPoint slides, and the following file includes the descriptions of major changes from the USGS website to help the instructor with an example of major changes.
LIDAR Assessment Guide


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. Instructors may want to have students draw a topographic profile of the before and after to get a sense of the vertical changes.

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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 »