SWOT Hydrology in the classroom

Friday, 19 December 2014
Margaret M Srinivasan, Caltech/JPL, Pasadena, CA, United States, Danielle Destaerke, CNES French National Center for Space Studies, Education, Toulouse Cedex 09, France, Dixon Matlock Butler, Science Advisor to NASA on the GLOBE Program, Washington D.C., DC, United States and Tamlin Pavelsky, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States
The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) Mission Education Program will participate in the multinational, multiagency program, Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE). GLOBE is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education community of over 24,000 schools in more than 100 countries. Over 1.5 million students have contributed more than 23 million measurements to the GLOBE database for use in inquiry-based science projects. The objectives of the program are to promote the teaching and learning of science; enhance environmental awareness, literacy and stewardship; and contribute to science research and environmental monitoring.

SWOT will measure sea surface height and the heights, slopes, and inundated areas of rivers, lakes, and wetlands. This new SWOT-GLOBE partnership will focus on the limnology aspects of SWOT. These measurements will be useful in monitoring the hydrologic cycle, flooding, and climate impacts of a changing environment.

GLOBE's cadre of teachers are trained in five core areas of Earth system science, including hydrology. The SWOT Education teams at NASA and CNES are working with the GLOBE Program implementers to develop and promote a new protocol under the Hydrology topic area for students to measure attributes of surface water bodies that will support mission science objectives. This protocol will outline and describe a methodology to measure width and height of rivers and lakes.

This new GLOBE protocol will be included in training to provide teachers with expertise and confidence in engaging students in this new scientific investigation. Performing this additional measurement will enhance GLOBE students experience in scientific investigation, and will provide useful measurements to SWOT researchers that can support the SWOT mission research goals.

SWOT public engagement will involve communicating the value of its river and lake height measurements, lake water storage, and river discharge. This is also important to the GLOBE Program as curriculum integration of its hydrology measurements can be enhanced by strengthened ties to the concepts of watersheds and the hydrologic cycle. Understanding can also be increased of the relation of lake and river levels to drought and water supply.