This lesson demonstrates ways that society and scientists identify and use data to understand disturbance events by focusing on the 2013 Boulder County, Colorado flooding events. Further, it encourages students to think about why we need to quantify change and the different types of data needed to quantify landscape change after a disturbance event. While the drivers and impacts of flooding extend beyond the metrics used in this lesson, we use subsets of these datasets to elicit discussion surrounding how we can study flooding and how the event impacts humans:
The lessons themselves can be found on the NEON Data Skills website. The teaching data subsets can be found on and downloaded from the NEON Data Skills account on FigShare.
The lesson consists of a detailed lesson page with graphics and figures to illustrate the data. Each data type has an accompanying
After the lesson, students will be able to:
- Explain how and why data are needed to support scientific inquiry.
- Summarize how data can be collected and used to quantify a flood event, including precipitation and stream gauges and lidar .
- Organize the various drivers and impacts of disturbance events to show causation.
- Diagram relationships between different variables (drivers and impacts) and how they influence disturbance events.
- Describe how disturbance events can impact society.
- Contrast how different types of data can be used to quantify changes in terrain.
- Summarize what lidar data are and several ways the data can be used.
- Explain the concept of a “100-year event” and why we might have two 100-year floods five years apart.
- Define: disturbance event, LiDAR, stream discharge (including CFS – cubic feet per second), and floodplain.
Data Skills Objectives
See optional R based Data Activities for individual data skills objectives.
Suggestions for Presenting Lesson
The detailed lesson page can be used directly to teach from, for students to follow along with the instructor, or to serve as a reference for students before or after the class. Instructors may also choose to download text, figures, graphics or video from this site and present the lesson in the medium of their choice.
Instructor Additions & Alternate Implementation Suggestions
If you use this material in your classroom, we encourage you to submit alternate implementation strategies or auxiliary materials to this collection.