Students learn that droughts, increasing in intensity due to climate change, impact people in the United States.
Engage students with the consequences of changing precipitation.
- Coping With Climate Change: Texas Towns Struggle With Water: Have students watch this PBS NewsHour video (10 minutes) and take notes about (1) what has changed due to the drought, (2) what communities are doing to adapt, and (3) how climate change plays a role in this drought.
Explore maps showing the location of agriculture, current drought, and projected future drought in the United States.
- Have students look at the three maps linked below, taking notes about which areas are getting more precipitation than usual, which are getting less than usual, and where we need water for agriculture. Then have students identify the states that are at high risk, that is - the most drought-prone states that rely on agriculture. Answers will likely include Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and Nebraska but will depend on the current drought conditions as shown on the drought monitor map. (Note that state names are not indicated on these maps. You may wish to have students refer to a map of political boundaries as they do this activity.)
- The U.S. Drought Monitor Map: This map is updated to show current drought conditions across the United States.
- Which areas are projected to become drier? This map shows how drought is projected to impact regions in North America.
- Where are the farms in the United States? This map shows the percent of land used for farming in the U.S. While different types of agriculture have different water needs, all types require water.
Evaluate student learning by having each student describe the impacts of drought on a particular place.
- Have each student choose a state and explain in a paragraph or short presentation 1) how climate change is expected to impact drought in the future and 2) whether there is agriculture in that state that is likely to be affected by drought. Student answers will vary depending on the state they choose. Explanations should refer to the maps of current drought, future projections, and agriculture.