InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes > Instructor Materials: Module Overview > Unit 5: Hurricane Risks and Coastal Development
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
showLearn More
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.
Explore the Collection »
How to Use »

New to InTeGrate?

Learn how to incorporate these teaching materials into your class.

  • Find out what's included with each module
  • Learn how it can be adapted to work in your classroom
  • See how your peers at hundreds of colleges and university across the country have used these materials to engage their students

How To Use InTeGrate Materials »
show Download
The instructor material for this module are available for offline viewing below. Downloadable versions of the student materials are available from this location on the student materials pages. Learn more about using the different versions of InTeGrate materials »

Download a PDF of all web pages for the instructor's materials

Download a zip file that includes all the web pages and downloadable files from the instructor's materials

Unit 5: Hurricane Risks and Coastal Development

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

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

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)?

  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.

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

Already used some of these materials in a course?
Let us know and join the discussion »

Considering using these materials with your students?
Get pointers and learn about how it's working for your peers in their classrooms »

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 »