2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
Paper No. 192-12
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM

USING GIS AND GOOGLE EARTH TO EXPLORE WATERSHEDS' RESPONSE TO NATURAL DISASTERS

HUTH, Anne K., Science Education Solutions, 4200 W. Jemez Rd., Suite 301-22, Synergy Center, Los Alamos, NM 87544, HALL, Michelle K., Science Education Solutions, 4200 W Jemez Rd, Suite 301-22, Los Alamos, NM 87544, hall@scieds.com, WALKER, C. Scott, Harvard Map Collection, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, and MAYHEW, Michael A., Synoptic, LLC, 42 Island Edge Dr, Ocean City, MD 21842

Watersheds shape natural disasters. The climate, landscape, and vegetation that characterize watersheds are interconnected and help determine the timing and severity of natural events such as floods, fires, and landslides. Yet a majority of high-school students and teachers do not know how to define a watershed or how it works. The critical role of watersheds in buffering or amplifying natural hazards is therefore lost or misunderstood among our target high-school audience. We developed and field-tested a suite of GIS- and Google-Earth-based activities that teach students how watersheds work, how they respond to too much or too little precipitation, how this response affects the risk for future natural hazards in watersheds, and what this means for people on a personal level. Students learn through analysis of spatial visualizations that watersheds are always in flux, responding to climatic and geologic events as well as human influences. Some natural events, however, can induce rapid, catastrophic change in watersheds. The activities use dramatic recent and historical natural disasters to engage students and illustrate how three different watersheds situated in alpine, humid, and semi-arid regions of the country respond to hazards. Using Google Earth, students can explore the watersheds with current and archived historical imagery. MyWorld GIS enables students to use digital data to do more in-depth investigations and analyses of watershed characteristics and their hydrological and ecological responses to natural disasters.

2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 192--Booth# 370
From Virtual Globes to Geoblogs: Digital Innovations in Geoscience Research, Education, and Outreach (Posters)
Oregon Convention Center: Hall A
9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 501

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