For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Water Science and Society 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.
Module 4: Flood and Drought
In this module, we will discuss the causes, implications and ways to characterize and predict what are often referred to as 'extreme events' in hydrology: floods and droughts. Such events play important roles in natural ecosystems and are a major concern for society, with significant impacts on the economy, ecosystem health and services, as well as human health. To gain a broader perspective, we will discuss floods and droughts within the more general topic of hydrologic variability. We will look beyond simple metrics like average annual rainfall to instead think about the full distribution of 'events' that characterize the hydrology of an area. The goals of this module are to expose you to the basic concepts of floods and droughts, develop an understanding of how we characterize 'normal' and 'extreme' hydrologic events, and gain some perspective on the consequences of floods and droughts for society and ecosystems. As part of this, you will become familiar with terms such as stationary versus non-stationary conditions, return period (a.k.a., recurrence interval), exceedance probability, and probability density function.