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Students are asked to make a general hypothesis about whether Atlantic hurricane have been changing over time in response to recent climate change. It is expected that at an introductory level with only the most basic background instruction, students will focus on numbers, locations, or intensities of hurricanes. Example hypotheses might be The numbers of hurricanes are increasing (or decreasing) Hurricanes are becoming more intense Hurricanes are forming in new locations Hurricane season is lengthening They are then asked to develop more pointed questions that they can test. Some example questions for each hypothesis are given below: Hypothesis 1 might lead to questions like "More hurricanes (or tropical storms) are forming each year" or "More hurricanes are striking land each year." Hypothesis 2 might lead to questions such as "The maximum wind speed for hurricanes is increasing" or "The minimum barometric pressure is decreasing." Hypothesis 3 might lead to questions like "Hurricanes are forming further north." Hypothesis 4 might lead to questions such as "Hurricanes are forming earlier and later." To answer these questions would require students to understand some background about hurricanes, like how many typically occur in the past (which leads to questions about data collection and observing hurricanes), how hurricane intensity is measured, or at what latitudes hurricanes typically form. Then they are given a table or map data (derived from NOAA GIS data of hurricane tracks and intensity) to test their hypotheses. The results of their inquiries and data collection will be shared with the class as parts of small groups initially, and will culminate as a small group presentation.
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