In this activity developed by NOAA, students investigate how hurricanes can affect NERRS estuaries. Students begin by studying the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR) in the Cape Fear area with Google Earth and predict which areas of the reserve might be more vulnerable to the onslaught of high winds, heavy rain and storm surge than others. Then students monitor and interpret the changes in water quality factors day by day as a severe storm approaches, strikes the estuary, and then dissipates.
Students will be able to:
- Describe the features and landforms associated with a coastal estuary.
- Predict how major storm events affect NERRS reserves in the United States.
- Investigate and interpret changes in water quality in an estuary due to a severe weather event.
- Determine the relationship between the characteristics of an extreme weather event (heavy wind, torrential rains and storm surge) and the subsequent change in water quality over time.
CONTEXT FOR USE
Teaching Time: 3 (55 minute) class sessions + homework
Organization of the Activity: This activity consists of 3 parts which help deepen understanding of estuarine systems:
- Investigating an Estuary
- Which NERRS are Affected by Hurricanes?
- Impact of Extreme Weather on an Estuary
Preparation: Download Google Earth and install it on your classroom computer(s) or computer lab machines.