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By Peter VanZandt

Birmingham-Southern College

Users access and manipulate drought data and visualize these data to learn about historical drought patterns.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Make Teaching with R in Undergraduate Biology Less Excruciating 2021

Version 1.0 - published on 10 Apr 2021 doi:10.25334/DF7F-7383 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms


This lesson will lead users through working with a portion of a data set that is collected by the National Climatic Data Center at a system of monitoring locations across the US. The data include drought indices that represent a biologically relevant and important ecological variable. Upon completion of the lesson, students will be prepared to design their own data exploration projects, which involve obtaining data from a source online (typically from a repository) and asking their own questions of the data.

Specifically, students will:

  • Review / interpret metadata and data headers
  • Screen data for missing values, understand how they’re coded, and separate them from meaningful data values
  • Plot data over time
  • Interpret the data and form new questions for future analyses 


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Make Teaching with R in Undergraduate Biology Less Excruciating 2021

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