For the Teacher

Lesson Overview

This module was created to accompany “Understanding the Changing Planet” Chapter 3: How are climate and other environmental changes affecting the vulnerabilities of coupled human-environment system? In this lesson, the student will use the flood.firetree.net global flooding map to study the severe flooding events in the Miyagi Prefecture, in Japan. They will use the interactive online elevation profile map and tool and the flood map to understand more fully the impact that these events had on those two areas. The students will focus their attention on the question:  “Which life-forms are likely to be most exposed to, and negatively affected by, environmental changes?”

Estimated Time

This activity should take a total of 60 minutes for your students to complete.  You can separate these activities into 30-minute segments, choose one or two of the three activities  for a 20-minute to 40-minute experience, or you can assign the activities for homework.  Your students will be able to freely obtain all tools necessary to complete these activities independently should you so choose for them to complete these on their own.

Materials

  • Photocopy one copy of student answer sheet for each student to hand in or turn in digitally
  • Have the students use the interactive pdf and email you their answers on the pdf
  • Computer with internet connection
  • ArcGIS Explorer Online requires the Silverlight 4 platform from Microsoft, and a browser which supports the Silverlight plug-in, for example current versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer or Google Chrome on Microsoft Windows, or Safari on Macintosh OS. You do not have to install any Esri software on your computer, because the application runs within the existing web browser.
  • Understanding the Changing Planet online website--Module 3: Vulnerability
  • Unfiltered access to the Esri free Online Elevation Profile tool:  http://maps.esri.com/AGSJS_Demos/ElevationsProfileTemplate/index.html and the global flood map http://flood.firetree.net/?ll=38.3050,140.9161&m=0 website.

    Student Answer Sheet

Objectives

The student will be able to:

• Use maps to interpret and analyze data

• Analyze flooding patterns due to extraordinary environmental events

• Use elevation profile tool along with algebraic equation to compute ocean depths and speed of the tsunami waves.

• Evaluate whether some communities or environments cope better with the impacts of changing circumstances than others

Teacher Notes

Lesson Introduction

In the “Think About It” section, have students watch the YouTube video Japan Tsunami then read the “How are climate and other environmental changes affecting the vulnerabilities of coupled human-environment systems?” section to provide them with some background knowledge of human-environment interaction issues in the 21st century.  Encourage students to read the Tool Tips information where provided if they are not familiar with the vocabulary words or concepts.

“The biophysical changes unfolding across Earth’s surface are of increasing concern. Yet earth systems have always been changing and life has survived many environmental perturbations, a reflection of both biological adaptation and human ingenuity. It is thus important to view current biophysical changes not so much as raising issues of survival, as of creating differential vulnerabilities. Which life-forms are likely to be most exposed to, and negatively affected by, environmental changes? Are there significant socioeconomic changes unfolding alongside environmental changes that could leave some people or ecosystems with much greater exposure to risk? In such cases, will vulnerabilities associated with socioeconomic changes likely amplify or attenuate the impacts of environmental changes? Do some people or environments cope better with the impacts of changing circumstances than others?” (UCP, 41)

Ask the students to think about the tsunami in Japan and compare that to any event of this type that may have happened to them in their lifetimes. Have them think about what they may have done if they found themselves in the situations illustrated in the videos. You may wish to work through the questions provided after the video in this classroom discussion.

a) What does the movement of the tsunami look like?
b) How large is the wave?
c) What strikes you as odd or interesting about the effects of the water from the tsunami?

The video cannot fully describe the devastation from the flooding but watching the video gives a glimpse into the events that occurred in during March 2011.

d) Think about the amount of people who live in coastal areas and imagine why do you think people live near oceans?

They can write down their answers on their Student Answer Sheet (on paper or digitally).

        Student Answer Sheet KEY

Geographic Investigation

In this one class period investigation in the Vulnerability Module, the investigation requires the students to compare an extreme flooding event that occurred in Japan in 2011. They will use the interactive flood.firetree.net global flood map and Esri free online elevation profile tool. As they explore the tsunami event the students will begin to understand the at times tenuous connection between humans and the environment or Earth. The students will complete the exploration answering questions throughout and finalize the activity with the interactive ABC News “Japan Before and After” online remote sensing site. The students will answer one final question: Do some communities or environments cope better with the impacts of changing circumstances than others?
There are some painful images in the videos the students will watch. It would be wise to help them to debrief what they have seen in the videos and how they can learn from them.

Credit and References

All data and maps in this lesson are to be used for educational purposes only. It is not to be used for research purposes.

Credits and References

  • All data and maps in this lesson are to be used for educational purposes only. It is not to be used for research purposes.

    Authors: B. Duke, A. Palmer & R. Palmer

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