InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Water Sustainability in Cities > Unit 8. Impacts of Extreme Hydroclimatic Events
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Unit 8. Impacts of Extreme Hydroclimatic Events

Manoj K. Jha, North Carolina A&T State University (mkjha@ncat.edu)
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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

In this unit, students analyze data to determine the frequency and probability of floods and droughts, and discuss ways that urban environments can become more resilient in the face of these events.

Science and Engineering Practices

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible. HS-P4.2:

Cross Cutting Concepts

Patterns: Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data. MS-C1.4:

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

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Weather and Climate : Because these patterns are so complex, weather can only be predicted probabilistically. MS-ESS2.D2:

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:

Performance Expectations

Earth and Human Activity: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity. HS-ESS3-1:

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.

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: Jul 15, 2016

Summary

Unit 8 covers the basics of hydroclimatic extreme events with a focus on floods and droughts. Topics include introduction to floods and droughts, impact of urbanization on extremes, how to understand and predict extremes, how to tackle them (management strategies), and elements of urban climate resilience. The teaching strategy is designed with short and divided lectures filled with discussion questions and a group activity. Students will be working with time series flow data for statistical analysis of extreme events.

Learning Goals

After completing Unit 8, students will be able to:

  • Define the meaning and explain the characteristics of extreme events (floods and droughts)
  • Collect and and perform statistical analysis on geoscience data
  • Develop the chart for predicting extremes
  • Recognize the usefulness of geoscience data in engineering design and application
  • Evaluate and argue potential measures to deal with extremes
  • Reflect on key elements of the resilient urban water system

Context for Use

This lesson is designed for use in mid- to upper-level undergraduate courses of engineering and geoscience disciplines. It can be adopted in hydrology, engineering hydrology, or water resources-related courses. There is no discipline-specific prerequisite required since the science content is basic and fundamental in nature. The lesson could also be adapted for use in an online setting.

The activity is structured around a 1-hour 15-minute class period with several hours of supporting work out of class as a class assignment.

Description and Teaching Materials

Pre-Class Reading

Read/Scan the following articles on flood frequency:

Go over the pre-class presentation slides (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 521kB Sep21 16) and complete the Pre-Class Assignment (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 28kB Sep21 16). These files can ideally be placed under the Online Course Management System such as BlackBoard or course website or can also be administered in the classroom at the start of the class.

In-Class Activities

(20 min) Fundamentals of floods, droughts, urban resilience

Use the

Floods and Droughts PowerPoint


This file is only accessible to verified educators. If you are a teacher or faculty member and would like access to this file please enter your email address to be verified as belonging to an educator.

to introduce the concept of extreme events, DDF and IDF charts, flood and drought characteristics, flood-frequency analysis, and topics of urban climate resilience.

(25 min) Flood planning activity with Rational Method

Use the

Rational Method and Urban Resilience PowerPoint


This file is only accessible to verified educators. If you are a teacher or faculty member and would like access to this file please enter your email address to be verified as belonging to an educator.

to introduce the significance of using the Rational Method for peak-flow analysis. Illustrate an example to estimate peak flow of floods resulting from various design precipitations for a given area. Discuss the planning strategies for flood resilience.

(20 min) Drought analysis

  • Before class, the instructor should go to the PRISM Climate Data website and
    • print out the most recent year's annual precipitation map for the United States
    • print out the 30-year normal precipitation map for the United States
  • Divide class into groups and give each group the two maps. Have them look at the recent year's precipitation compared to the 30-year average and decide what parts of the country might be in "drought"
  • Then, the instructor can pull up the current drought monitor on the screen and talk about what contributes to drought declaration and severity of drought

(10 min) Wrap-up and general discussion questions for reflecting on what was learned (metacognition)

Initiate classroom discussion using Think-Pair-Share approach (and collect group responses). Example discussion questions are:

  1. What do we mean by "doing a statistical analysis" for extreme events and why it is necessary?
  2. How does climate change affect the current understanding of and potential measures to tackle extreme events?
  3. What are your thoughts on how the urban system can be more resilient to uncertain extreme events?

Teaching Notes and Tips

Students may have difficulty understanding some of the new terms such as frequency analysis, return period, exceedance probability, etc. It is advised to explain the basic meanings of new terms as they appear.

Assessment

Grading Scheme:
  • Pre-class assignment (50% weight)
  • Notes of Think-Pair-Share group work (50% weight)
  • Excellent: >90%; Very Good: 80–90%; Good: 70–80%; Poor: 60–70%

References and Resources

Konrad, C.P. 2003. Effects of urban development on floods. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-076-03.

Tallaksen, L.M. and van Lanen H.A.J. 2004. Hydrological Drought: Processes and Estimation Methods for Streamflow and Groundwater. Volume 48 of Developments in Water Science. ISSN 0167-5648. Gulf Professional Publishing. 579 pages.

Tyler, S. and M. Moench. 2012. A framework for urban climate resilience. Climate and Development 4(4): 311-326.

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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 »