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Cycle A Dust Bowl - Team Assignment

Page history last edited by Dara K. Cepeda 10 years, 4 months ago

Part 1: Knowledge and Questions

Dara K. Cepeda

Part 1: Knowledge and Questions

Cristina Pintor

Part 1: Knowledge and Questions

Cesar Mata

Part 1: Knowledge and Questions

Rene Rodriguez

To be honest this is the very first time I ever read or heard about a Dust Bowl.  I wasn't aware of this kind of disaster.  I never thought that something like this could happen before.  In fact I'm very glad Dust Bowl was introduced in ESSEA because now I'm aware of it and would like to learn more about it.   I know we live in South TX and this is one of the areas where Dust Bowl could hit.  Very important to learn more about this kind of disaster.  We need to get more informed to be prepared for any possible Dust Bowl in the future.  After reading about this I learned that Scientist are worried about this natural disaster and are urging the government to preserve water and create new ways for survival in case of a Dust Bowl.

 

 

Erosion caused by severe drought and over-farming led to the disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Areas that were once covered by grasslands and trees were plowed down to make room for people emigrating from the East. The offer of free land and opportunity drew millions to the area and led to an economic boom that didn’t last very long. Changes in weather patterns led to a severe drought slowing agriculture. This combined with over farming created a dangerous situation as massive windstorms carried dust and dirt for miles. Entire areas were engulfed by crippling dust storms. People died from suffocation and others were forced to leave the areas as they had no way to prosper under those appalling conditions.

 

My only experience with the Dust Bowl prior to our ESSEA course assignment was in an American Heritage course that I took at UTPA during my sophomore year in 2004. From this experience, I can only recall major details about the Dust Bowl such as what I remembered about the causes and effects of the disaster. I can recall that the two major causes of the Dust Bowl were severe drought and over farming of the Great Plains. I believe the biggest impact that it had was an economic one. It forced many to give up their dreams of prosperity on the plains and move to seek other opportunities.
 

After thoroughly reading and understanding the scenario, I now understand what the Dust Bowl was all about.  It has come to my understanding that no one would have known or been prepared for this kind of disaster.  When the people heard about free land in this part of the country what other option was available for these landless citizens.   Who in their right mind would turn down such an offer?  The folks at the time weren’t thinking about how the land looked, they were thinking about having free land to build homes and schools.  To them this was a place where they could raise their families and grow crops.  It was the American dream and they were going to take advantage. 

Part 2: Discussion
Part 2: Discussion
Part 2: Discussion
Part 2: Discussion

Peer discussion of each others thoughts:

Individual questions:

Do you think government should inform/prepare people about a possible Dust Bowl?

What do you think people could do as a precaution to a possible Dust Bowl?

 

What countries or areas are most targeted for a possible Dust Bowl in the future?

 

Peer discussion of each others thoughts:

Individual questions:

1. Were farmers at that time aware of good farming techniques?

2. If another Dust Bowl where to happen, will it be in the same region?
3. Is government aware that there is a possibility of another Dust bowl?
4. Is government prepared to prevent another Dust Bowl to happen?
5. In case another Dust bowl happens, is government prepared to deal with that disaster?

 

Peer discussion of each others thoughts:

Individual questions:

1. Could the dust bowl have been prevented?

2. How do weather patterns from the 1930’s compare with weather patterns today?

3. What are the signs that the Ogalla aquifer is losing its ability to sustain agriculture?

4. What other climate changes could lead to a new dust bowl?

5. What can we learn from the 1930’s dust bowl that would help us prevent another dust

bowl from occurring?

6. Is the present day economy better equipped to handle a new dust bowl?

 

Peer discussion of each others thoughts:

Individual questions:


  • Ø  How do we educate our farmers of a possible dust bowl?
  • Ø  What are some ways we can recycle rain for future water use?
  • Ø  What are some ways of maintaining the Ogalalla Aquifer better?
  • Ø  Are there other ways of providing water to our crops?
Part 3: Problem Statement
Part 3: Problem Statement
Part 3: Problem Statement
Part 3: Problem Statement
   

Team 13th Floor will conduct extensive research and work with NASA to develop a policy concerning the most precious resource, water. Our research will assist us in understanding how we could prevent a new dust bowl.


 
Part 4: Investigation
Part 4: Investigation

Part 4: Investigation


Part 4: Investigation
   

E>H Dust storms deposit dirt into local rivers, lakes, streams etc. entirely removing hydrosphere ecosystems.

 

E>A>B Dirt and dust carried by windstorms fill the atmosphere making it impossible to see and breathe.

 

A>E Changes in weather patterns lead to severe drought effectively triggering the dust bowl.

 

L>E Removal of grasslands and over farming create the perfect recipe for a dust storm.

 

E>B The dust bowl disaster kills many animals, including humans, and forces many more to flee their homelands.


 

 

EDTC 6341.63
3-25-12
Team 13th Floor
Dara K. Cepeda
Cesar Mata
Cristina Pintor
Rene Rodriguez

PBL Model: Dust Bowl Cycle A (Team)




                                                            Image courtesy of : http://www.weru.ksu.edu/new_weru/multimedia/dustbowl/dustbowlpics.html

4. List what is unknown.

What are the signs that the Ogallala aquifer is losing its ability to sustain agriculture?

What other climate changes could lead to a new dust bowl?

Were farmers at that time aware of good farming techniques?

If another Dust Bowl where to happen, will it be in the same region?

Is government aware that there is a possibility of another Dust bowl?

Is government prepared to prevent another Dust Bowl from happening?

In case another Dust bowl happens, is government prepared to deal with that disaster?

Do you think government should inform/prepare people about a possible Dust Bowl?

What do you think people could do as a precaution to a possible Dust Bowl?

How can we better educate our farmers of a possible dust bowl?

Are there other ways of watering our crops besides an aquifer?


5. List what needs to be done:

What are the signs that the Ogallala aquifer is losing its ability to sustain agriculture?

Water from the Ogallala aquifer irrigates about ⅕ of all U.S. cropland. Once believed to be an unlimited source of groundwater, the Ogallala is being threatened by excessive pumping and contamination.

In some parts over-top of the aquifer, groundwater is no longer a good source of irrigation. In 1950 the Ogallala irrigated about 3.5 million acres of farmland. Today it irrigates about 16 million acres. Excessive pumping of the aquifer could exhaust groundwater faster than natural rainfall can replenish it.

The quality of the water is also suffering due to contamination. Pesticides, nitrates in fertilizer, sewage and other agricultural runoff is polluting the groundwater slowly reducing the quality.


Source: http://www.kerrcenter.com/publications/ogallala_aquifer.pdf


What other climate changes could lead to a new dust bowl?
    Recent short term droughts in the Southwest can lead to drier climates that reduce vegetation holding soil together. These conditions can increase dust storm activity caused by wind erosion much like those that caused the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.
    If these drought conditions continue across the Southwest, we could be heading into another dust bowl.

Source: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2709

Changing climate will mean increasing drought in the Southwest _ a region where water already is in tight supply. The reduction in rainfall could reach levels of the 1930s Midwest dust bowl.
source :  http://www.bookrags.com/news/climate-change-threatens-new-dust-moc/

Were farmers at that time aware of good farming techniques?
In 1930, nearly 2/3s of the farms on the Great Plains were less than 500 acres. Although  those farmers were aware of good farming techniques, they were less likely to use the costly wind erosion control techniques developed in the 1920s or earlier. The prevalence of small farms created a coordination problem for the joint adoption of erosion control, because small farmers resisted them, and the large numbers of farmers involved raised the costs of collective action. Erosion control efforts were effective only if used by all or most farmers in a region.
Source: http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/libecap.pdf

If another Dust Bowl where to happen, will it be in the same region?
The potential is there, although land conditions are different; soil is no longer left bare over the winter, and many of Hugh Bennett’s conservation practices are in place. But some signs are ominous; grain prices again are high, land is coming out of grass (in this case, the Conservation Reserve Program), and the NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook through February 2012 is disturbingly similar to the conditions of the early 1930s.
The Southwest has seen the worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and recently, major sand storms have occurred in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Lubbock, Texas, as the current drought in the Southwest deepens.
Source:http://www.amestrib.com/sections/news/ames-and-story-county/dennis-keeney-great-dust-bowf al-can-it-happen-again.html

How can we better educate our farmers of a possible dust bowl?
Farmers and other land managers from Texas to North Dakota are working with exactly that goal in mind, aware their future may depend on it.  On a recent spring afternoon, Jude Smith and his staff at the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, a 6,500-acre of spread of federal land just south of town, were using a backhoe to push a giant bale of hay into a drainage ditch.  The goal: “We’re trying to fix mistakes that were made 70 years ago, “says Smith, smiling and shaking his head in disbelief.  The ditch was formed by decades of improperly managed water runoff from a nearby agricultural field, Smith says.  These days, it carries away large quantities of dirt with each major rainfall.  Smith hopes the hay will act as a filter, catching the dirt as it flows downhill-and thus preventing the kind of land erosion that made the dust storms of the 1930’s so severe.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2010-04-09-dust-bowl_N.htm

What do you think people could do as a precaution to a possible Dust Bowl?

1. Heed dust storm warnings.
2. Be prepared.
3. Outrun the storm.
4. Pull over.
5. Take cover and stay put.
6. Wear a mask.
7. Protect your eyes.
8. Shield yourself from flying objects.
TIPS:

  • Dust storms vary in both size and duration: most are quite small and last only a few minutes, while the largest can extend hundreds of miles, tower more than a mile into the sky, and last for many days. Ideal dust storm conditions are also ideal for thunderstorms, and lightning often accompanies a dust storm. Read the related wikiHow for details onhow to protect yourself during a thunderstorm.
  • Stay with the group. If you are traveling in a group, do not venture off during a dust storm. You can quickly become hopelessly lost. Members of the group should stay together and hold hands or lock arms. If it is absolutely necessary for someone to leave the group--as may be the case in military operations, for example--that person should be secured with a rope (the other end of which should be secured to someone who stays with the group), so that he or she can safely return.
  • In desert climates, vehicles often create their own mini-sandstorms. This poses a problem for convoys of vehicles, as the constant clouds of dust wreak havoc on moving parts, and impaired visibility can lead to accidents. It can also contribute to respiratory problems for people traveling in these convoys, so bring along a mask and eye protection if you will be traveling across the desert in an open vehicle.
  • If possible, avoid wearing contact lenses in areas prone to dust storms. Even small amounts of airborne dust can cause eye irritation and vision problems for wearers of contact lenses, and dry, hot conditions alone can cause discomfort. Bring your eyeglasses when working or traveling in a desert.



SOURCE: http://www.wikihow.com/Survive-a-Dust-Storm-or-Sandstorm



Are there other ways of watering our crops besides an aquifer?
Here are some things that farmers are doing to be more efficient:

  1. Leveling of fields
  2. Surge flooding
  3. Capture and reuse of runoff
  4. Leveling of fields: Flood irrigation uses gravity to transport water, and, since water flows downhill, it will miss a part of the field that is on a hill, even a small hill. Farmers are using leveling equipment, some of which is guided by a laser beam, to scrape a field flat before planting. That allows water to flow evenly throughout the fields. (Actually, this method of levelling a field is also used to build flat tennis courts).
  5. Surge flooding: Traditional flooding involved just releasing water onto a field. In using surge flooding, water is released at prearranged intervals, which reduces unwanted runoff.
  6. Capture and reuse of runoff: A large amount of flood-irrigation water is wasted because it runs off the edges and back of the fields. Farmers can capture the runoff in ponds and pump it back up to the front of the field where it is reused for the next cycle of irrigation.

http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/irmethods.html


Do you think government should inform/prepare people about a possible Dust Bowl?

The IPCC announced two dire predictions: “It is virtually certain that on a global scale hot days will become hotter and occur more often . . . Likewise, heavy precipitation will occur more often, and the wind speed of tropical cyclones will increase while their number will likely remain constant or decrease.”
The past summer was a very dramatic demonstration of what lies ahead. Extreme heat, drought, flooding and storms left few areas untouched. Farmers across Texas and neighboring states report it was the toughest season they have ever seen.

Top Climate Scientists Warn Adaptation to Climate Change Can’t Wait.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on November 18 warning world political leaders that they need to get ready for more dangerous and “unprecedented extreme weather” caused by global warming. After their meeting in Kampala, Uganda on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disaster to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, the panel of top international climate scientists expressed concern that without preparedness and adaptation some areas will need to be abandoned.

SOURCE:  http://www.cleanhouston.org/energy/features/adaptation.htm


6. Develop a problem statement:

Changing climate conditions coupled with the misuse of natural resources could lead the Southwest into another Dust Bowl. Team 13th Floor will conduct extensive research about recent climate changes and work with Nasa to develop a policy concerning the most precious resource, water. Our research will assist us in understanding how we could prevent a new dust bowl.

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