Hazard Mapping Project


Why maps?
Maps are something that we all use in our daily lives whether we are using Google Maps to divert our way around traffic, or trying to find a new restaurant with our in car navigation, or we are trying to follow a hand drawn map to get to a wedding reception. For this project the maps you create must be original, that is you just didn’t search Google images for maps already created by other people. You will be creating maps of areas that you choose, using data you choose, and you will format it with a scale bar, north arrow, title, and paragraph caption that are all original.

What is a Physical Geography Hazard?
A Natural Hazard is any naturally occurring event that can have a negative effect on people or the environment. Examples include hurricanes floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tornado’s. These events are natural because they are a part of earths systems, but when they occur where people live, than they become a hazard to people. Find out more about hazards by checking out information from the USGS (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and the U.S.Federal Government (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

Possible Hazard Topic Ideas include (but are not limited to):

Climate Change
Snow blizzards
Sea level Rise
Storm Surge
Ground Water Pollution
Sinkholes & Subsidence

What should your THREE Original DIGITAL MAP SETS include?

Each individual will submit THREE MAPS focusing on a chosen hazard from the list above.

  1. You should map the SAME HAZARD data set at three different scales starting with the local scale (shows 1 city), zooming out to a regional scale (shows 1 state or small country), and finally zooming out to a global scale (shows 1-2 continents).
  2. Your map set (3 Maps, 3 descriptive paragraphs) should be submitted on ONE single pdf.
  3. The descriptive paragraphs should explain the hazard pattern (Where is the hazard occurring and not occurring?), process (Why does the hazard occur some places but not others?), and proposed solutions (How dangerous is this hazard? How could this hazard be managed?). Outside research should be conducted and cited.

This part of the project is basically asking you to create a series of thematic maps. Watch this short video (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. which explains what thematic maps are and what they look like.

How will you make an original map set?

In order to make a map you need a base map, and data. You will use a variety of sources such as National Map (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., National Geographic Map Maker (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., Google Earth (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., Weather Underground Mapper (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., ArcGIS Explorer (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (requires creating a free account) to get base maps and data, NOAA National Hazard Viewer (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., Historical Hurricane Tracker (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., Tornado History Project (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., Water Risk Atlas (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., and Windyty (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

There are 4 steps to this part of the assignment:

  1. Choose a free map maker and play around with the available data. Decide which hazard you want to map.
  2. Once you have mapped the hazard data, look for patterns at local (1 ctiy), regional (1 state or small country) and global (1-2 continents) scales.
  3. If interesting patterns emerge, then you will want to do some research so you can explain the geographic pattern & process. If no patterns emerge, then you may want to map a different data set or look in a different area (zoom in/out or focus on a different area).
  4. Finally you will capture an image of your completed map (or just a screen shot) and import it into a word processing program like word where you can add a title, legend, any labels, and a paragraph caption.

Map Set Examples:
Atmosphere Map Set_small.pdfView in a new window

Hydrosphere Map Set.pdfView in a new window

Lithosphere Map Set_small.pdfView in a new window

Your INDIVIDUAL Map Set Should

  • Be original, and cite all outside data and sources
  • Map the hazard at local (1 city or county), regional (1 state or small country) and global (the entire U.S., a continent, or the world) scales.
  • Contain a descriptive paragraph caption (5-10 sentences, college level writing) which describes the hazard patterns, process and proposed solutions.
  • Contain a scale bar, north arrow, legend and descriptive title.
  • Be easy to see and read.

Here are some pointers to help you create your maps and start thinking about your Map Sets:

  • Your map needs to be original, meaning you created it using an online tool where you chose the data to be mapped, the area and zoom level. You should not use an existing (e.g., jpg, png, gif) image of a map that has already been created by someone else.
  • You need to do research to explain the patterns that you see. That is, you will need to discover the processes that create the map pattern. For example, if you see a line of volcanoes in the Pacific coast of Central America you will need to explain how the Cocos plate is subducting beneath the Caribbean plate in an oceanic-to-continental convergent plate boundary, how the sinking oceanic plate melts and rises, etc.
  • All the information that you use in the descriptive paragraphs needs to be properly cited. It is best if you have a separate reference section at the end of your map set. You also need to cite the source or sources of your maps.
  • Your maps need to have a scale bar, north arrow and descriptive title. In some tools such as the National Geographic Mapmaker, the scale bar shows up automatically. In others, you may need to draw it in. You may also need to draw in the north arrow. A descriptive title is one that describes the area covered by the map and its content. “Regional map” is not a descriptive title, “Volcanoes on the Pacific coast of Central America” is.
  • You need to describe the hazard patterns, process and proposed solutions. Describe the pattern you see in each map (e.g., Most tornadoes occur in the South and lower Midwest). Describe the process that causes this pattern (e.g, Clashes of cold and warm air masses, moist conditions, formation of thunderstorms, flat,open land, etc.). Describe proposed solutions (e.g., Practice a tornado drill, keep safety supplies, heed warnings, go to the basement, etc.). Again, you will need to do research and cite your sources.
  • There should only be one hazard or physical geography phenomena per map set. Do not use more than one layer in a map set. If your local map shows areas of landslide susceptibility, then your regional and continental/global map should also show areas of landslide susceptibility.
  • Make sure that each of your maps provides somewhat different information (different patterns and/or processes) so that you have something new to say for each of the different scales (zoom levels).


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