InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes > Instructor Materials: Module Overview > Unit 5: Hurricane Risks and Coastal Development
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Unit 5: Hurricane Risks and Coastal Development

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 analyze data related to human impacts, including economic losses and deaths from hurricanes. They make arguments about how risk can change even as the hazard remains the same.

Science and Engineering Practices

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Compare and contrast various types of data sets (e.g., self-generated, archival) to examine consistency of measurements and observations. HS-P4.4:

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

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:

Scale, Proportion and Quantity: The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs. HS-C3.1:

Scale, Proportion and Quantity: Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth). HS-C3.5:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Natural Hazards: Natural hazards and other geologic events have shaped the course of human history; [they] have significantly altered the sizes of human populations and have driven human migrations. HS-ESS3.B1:

Performance Expectations

Earth and Human Activity: Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects. MS-ESS3-2:

  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 Reviewed Teaching Collection

    This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the 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 addresses changes in hurricane risks due to coastal development. Students will calculate the risks from hurricanes and how the hazards have changed (or not) from 1901 to 2010. Students will determine how changes in coastal development have altered the risks presented by hurricanes by analyzing data in Activity 5.1 and historic maps and aerial photographs in Activity 5.2.

Learning Goals

After completing this unit students will be able to:
  • Use data and images to describe the changes in hurricane hazards over time.
  • Use recurrence intervals and costs to identify how human activities can change risks.

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

  • Humans significantly alter Earth.
  • Risks change, and generally increase as population and infrastructure increase.

Context for Use

This unit builds on the background on risks and hazards presented earlier in the module. These activities may be used with the Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes module, or as a half of a stand-alone unit on hazards and risks, with Unit 1. This unit covers the hazards and risks from hurricanes but does not cover hurricane processes such as formation, precipitation, or movement, which are covered elsewhere in the module. 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 introductory-level college course or upper-level students.

Description and Teaching Materials

Activity 5.1

First, review the differences between hazard and risk. (2 min)

Second, have students calculate the costs of hurricane preparation using the Activity 5.1 sheet (student version) (Microsoft Word 149kB Aug26 14). Students plot (either by hand or in a graphing software such as Excel) changes in hurricane hazards and risks from 1900 to 2010 and determine trends in the number of storms, deaths, and costs from hurricanes. (25 min)

At the end of the activity, ask students write a short essay to reflect on what the trends in the data mean and what actions might be taken to mitigate property damage and minimize the loss of life. (3 min)

Activity 5.2

First, show the Class introduction and discussion PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 2.2MB Aug26 14). (5 min)

Then, using the Activity 5.2 sheet (student version) (Microsoft Word 5MB Aug26 14), ask students to interpret the paired aerial photograph and topographic maps to examine how hurricane risks have changed from increased human coastal development. (5 min)

Next, discuss the changes in coastal development and the potential damage of future hurricanes to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Far Rockaway, New York. (5 min)

Finally, assign the homework questions below, or if time, discuss in class:

  1. How quickly and easily can you compare multiple columns of data to make an interpretation? Which do you think better conveys the changes in risk from hurricanes: the data comparison (Activity 5.1) or the visual comparison (Activity 5.2)?
  2. If the number of hurricanes has been fluctuating up and down but has remained relatively constant between 1900 and 2010, describe specifically how the risk from hurricanes has changed given the changes in coastal development observed in this activity.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • The exercise uses real data, so while there are trends it will be important to illustrate data points that lie outside general trends. For example, there is an outlier in hurricane deaths from 2001–2010 due to Hurricane Katrina (2005).

Assessment

Activity 5.1 sheet (instructor version with answers)


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Activity 5.2 sheet (instructor version with answers)


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Embedded assessments include:

  • Determining the cost of a hurricane
  • Determining the cost of hurricane preparation
  • Comparing the changing costs of a hurricane with coastal development

Additionally, students can do a homework write-up with this assignment or, if time, discuss in class:

  1. How quickly and easily can you compare multiple columns of data to make an interpretation? Which do you think better conveys the changes in risk from hurricanes: the data comparison (Activity 5.1) or the visual comparison (Activity 5.2)?
    • Students should reflect on their own learning. For example, some students find comparing multiple columns of data difficult and need to look at one column of data and write down the key pattern/description, then do the same for each, and then finally make an interpretation from their data descriptions.
    • Students should justify why data or visual comparisons are better, or compare the relative merits for different media.

  2. If the number of hurricanes has been fluctuating up and down but has remained relatively constant between 1900 and 2010, describe specifically how the risk from hurricanes has changed given the changes in coastal development observed in this activity.
  • Although hurricanes fluctuate somewhat on a multidecadal scale, risk has increased dramatically since 1900 due to increased building on our coastlines. Prediction and evacuation policies have decreased the risk to human life, with the tragic exception of Hurricane Katrina (2005).

References and Resources

Times-Picayune reporting on the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina (2005) https://www.nola.com/news/katrina/ provides background context about one of the costliest and deadliest hurricanes in the United States.

New York Times article about the risks that come with rebuilding our shores: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/09/science/earth/rebuilding-our-shores-increasing-the-risks.html?_r=1&

Further information about how individuals and organizations can be more prepared, from the National Hurricane Center here and at Weather-Ready Nation.

US Department of Agriculture, aerial photographs of Broward County and other regions in Florida: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071731/00019

Historic topographic maps: http://historical.mytopo.com/quad.cfm?quadname=Brooklyn&state=NY&series=15

National Map Viewer: http://nationalmap.gov/viewer.html

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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 »