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I'll Huff and I'll Puff and I'll Blow Your Trees Down: How Wind Speed Affected Trees During Hurricane Hugo

This article is from Issue Tropical - Vol. 3 No. 1.

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When a hurricane occurs, a lot of damage can be done to buildings and other structures. One of the most visible types of damage occurs to trees. The scientists in this study wanted to know more about the extent of damage to trees following a tropical hurricane in Puerto Rico.

Welcome to the Tropical edition

Note to Educators

Education Standards Correlations

Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Earth Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Atmosphere (Educators)
  • Forest and Grassland Use (Educators)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)
  • Vegetation Management (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Southern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
When scientists study something, they usually like to plan their experiments in advance. They do this so that they have more control over the experiment. When scientists study natural disasters, they cannot always plan their experiments. This is because people do not always know when or where a natural disaster will occur. Natural disasters include events like hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides, volcanoes, and floods. The scientists in this study wanted to study the effects of a hurricane. As part of their research, they needed to know the wind speed of the hurricane as it blew across different places. Because they did not know where or when the hurricane would blow, they had to rely on measurements made by other people. You can see that scientists sometimes have to use data collected by other people. Can you think of examples of when you have to do the same thing? (Hint: Think about the weather forecast or about medical information. What other different kinds of information do you use that are collected by other people?)
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Scientific Topics
  • The Scientific Process

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
In nature, some events are cyclical. The seasons are an example of a cyclical natural event because they repeat themselves every year. Day and night are also examples of a cyclical event because they are repeated daily. Can you think of other cyclical events that are predictable? Cyclical events happen in nature all of the time. Some cycles are not as exact as other cycles. Hurricanes, for example, are cyclical because they occur in the tropics every year between June and November. However, we do not know exactly what day a hurricane will occur during that time. Can you think of other cyclical events that are not as easily predictable?
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Effect of natural disaster on living things

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms (C)
  • Earth in the solar system (D)
  • Natural hazards (F)
  • Personal health (F)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Regulation and behavior (C)
  • Risks and benefits (F)
  • Science and technology in society (F)
  • Structure of the earth system (D)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Common Themes: Constancy and Change
  • Habits of Mind: Communication Skils
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • Habits of Mind: Manipulation and Observation
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry
  • The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise
  • The Physical Setting: Processes that Shape the Earth
  • The Physical Setting: The Earth