Two streams, two stories... How Humans Alter Floods and Streams
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection
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- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
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This page first made public: Feb 25, 2006
- Be able to determine recurrence intervals for a set of discharge data
- examine the idea of a "100-year flood" and discuss the limitations of this concept
- discuss human impacts on streams and flooding
- calculate the probability of exceedence from a recurrence interval
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Teaching Notes and Tips
The most problematic part I have experienced is that my students often do not know how to graph a best-fit line, which requires some supplemental instruction either to the entire class or on a one-on-one basis. Some students also have trouble choosing an appropriate scale for their graph's y-axis. I have them experiment to discover a satisfactory one, even though it may take a few attempts.
References and Resources
Foley, D., G McKenzie,and R.Utgard, 1999. "Investigations in Environmental Geology. Prentice Hall, New Jersey. 303 pp.
Dinicola, K. 1996 "The "1OO-Year Flood"" U.S.G.S. Fact Sheet 229-96 discusses the common misconception that 100-year floods occur only once in a 100-year period. In reality, a 100-year-flood may occur more than once or not at all during any particular 100-year period. The fact sheet also explains the need to update the estimated flow expected in a 100-year flood as more and more data becomes available for a particular river. This shows the importance of continued river monitoring. It is the source of the data for this exercise.