Climate & Water Teaching Box: Less Rainfall

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Goal: 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.

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.)

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.

Performance Expectation and Standards:

  • NGSS: Science and Engineering Practices: Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • NGSS: DCI HS and MS-ESS3.D: Global Climate Change
  • NGSS: DCI HS and MS-ESS2.C: The Role of Water in Earth Surface Processes
  • NGSS: Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns, Cause and Effect, Stability and Change
  • National Geography Standard 18: How to Apply Geography to Interpret the Present and Plan for the Future
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.7: Translate Information Expressed Visually (Maps) into Words
  • PE: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity (HS-ESS3-1)
  • PE: Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems (HS-ESS3-5)
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