Dealing with Drought

Science, Impacts and Strategies to Save Water
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  • Lectures 30
  • Length 2 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English, captions
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 9/2015 English Closed captions available

Course Description

Droughts are among the most expensive natural disasters, harming agriculture, the economy and human health, and creating ideal conditions for wildfires. The conditions that the western United States is experiencing today may be a taste of the "new normal." By the end of this century, scientists expect droughts to intensify and increase in length and frequency in many regions of the United States. The intensified drought conditions projected under climate change will present challenges for the management of reservoirs, aquifers and other water infrastructure.

In this course, you will learn about drought and its impacts on society and the environment, while gaining practical tips and tools to help you and your family save water. Through videos, quizzes and activities with tips and links to trusted resources, you will learn more about:

  • different types of drought;
  • historical, current and projected drought trends for the United States;
  • the health, financial, social and environmental impacts of drought;
  • how to reduce water use by both changing behavior and creating a more water-efficient home and landscape.

The course uses the current California drought as a case study throughout and draws on expertise and interviews from trusted sources, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program, the National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Forest Service, NASA, NOAA and others.

What are the requirements?

  • All you need is an interest in drought!

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of this course, you will understand the definitions of drought, and how drought impacts society and the environment.
  • You will understand historical, current and projected drought trends in the United States.
  • You will have access to practical tips and tools to help you save water by both changing behavior and creating a more water-efficient home and landscape.

What is the target audience?

  • This course is for anyone interested in learning more about drought and its impacts in the United States.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: Get Started
01:26

As of August 25, 2015, more than 70% of the western United States was experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions. This situation may be a taste of "the new normal" as the intensified drought conditions projected under climate change present challenges for the management of reservoirs, aquifers, and other water infrastructure.

In this course, learn about:

  • The science behind drought
  • The environmental and societal impacts of drought
  • The past, present, and future drought conditions in the United States
  • What you and your family can do to help conserve water not only for your communities today, but also for future generations
01:48

This lesson has five quick and easy tips that can make a big difference in your annual water usage. Hungry for more ways to save? Keep an eye out for downloadable tip sheets throughout this course for water conservation strategies for your workplace, kitchen, bathroom and yard.

04:10

Beth Livingston, EPA WaterSense brand manager, discusses the nature of the WaterSense program and how individuals can save water, energy and money by switching to more efficient fixtures.

Section 2: The Science of Drought
10:09

Just what is a drought? How do we know when a drought is starting or ending? Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, explains why these can be difficult questions to answer.

What is Drought?
3 questions
02:42

If a raindrop falls on the ocean and there's no one there to see it, how can we be sure it really happened? Watch this short video from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to learn more about how the agency records global precipitation, soil moisture and changes in remote ice sheets to get "The Big Picture" of global change.

Article

How much water could you be saving? That can be hard to say without knowing how much water you and your family are already using. Check out this water footprint calculator to determine the amount of water used in your home, on your commute and on your dinner plate, as well as how to conserve water resources in your daily life.

Section 3: The Impacts of Drought in the United States
07:58

In this lesson, take a closer look at how drought impacts the way water cycles across the planet, from precipitation to snowpack, streamflow, groundwater, runoff and evaporation. Additionally, see what kind of impacts reduced water resources can have on plants, animals and the physical landscape.

Environmental Impacts of Drought
3 questions
02:52

With about 71% of the Earth's surface covered in water, it might seem like there will always be plenty of water to fulfill the needs of plants, animals and people, even in times of drought. However, of this vast quantity of water, only a minute amount is actually available for us to use! Learn more from NASA about where the planet's freshwater is stored, and how scientists track this important resource.

Article

You wouldn't expect to find a penguin in the tropics, right? These animals have adapted to thrive in specific climate conditions, where other animals might struggle. The same kinds of adaptations are seen in plants! By choosing plants that have adapted to thrive under the moisture levels naturally found in your area, you can help reduce your water use and improve your landscape.

1 page

Download this sheet for some quick tips for saving water outside, as well as guidance on longer-term investments you may want to consider for a more serious commitment to water conservation.

12:34

Droughts are among the most expensive natural disasters, with impacts on human health, the agricultural industry and energy production. In this lesson, learn more about these impacts and take a closer look effect the 2011 drought had on Texas agriculture with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Dr. Travis Miller.

Societal Impacts of Drought
3 questions
05:46

The Sacramento Zoo requires water to take care of their animals and habitats, but they've found some creative ways to conserve while still attending to the animals' needs.

Article

According to the EPA WaterSense program, the average household's leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of wasted water each year! By attending to easily fixed household water leaks, the average homeowner can save about 10% on their water bill. Learn how to find and fix these leaks with this activity.

1 page

Download this sheet to learn more about how to save water in different kinds of workplaces.

Section 4: Drought in the United States: Past, Present and Future
05:46

The current western drought is one of the worst on record, but what other events are we comparing it to? In this lesson, learn about other major drought events that have affected the United States, including the Dust Bowl, and the droughts of the 1950s and the 1980s.

History of Drought in the United States
3 questions
Article

Interested in learning more about the weather and climate conditions that led to one of the most infamous droughts in the United States? Check out this article from NASA to dive deeper into the Dust Bowl of the 1930's.

02:44

Drought has been present in the United States for the last 15 years--basically all of the 21st century. In this lesson, learn about the current drought conditions faced by the nation, as well as just how much water is needed to re-hydrate the west.

21st Century Drought in the United States
3 questions
11:54

Under the current drought conditions wildfires are quickly spreading across California, putting thousands of lives at risk as fires rage year-round. This video from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection takes a look at 2014's fire season, discusses the fire outlook, and shares information and tips on how to prepare for future fires.

13:54

Are the current drought conditions seen in the United States a taste of what to expect in the future under climate change? Dr. Ben Cook, a climatologist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, discusses what conditions scientists are projecting for the country over the next hundred years.

Projected Drought Trends in the United States
3 questions
02:43

Dr. Cook returns in this video from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to discuss megadroughts, what scientists are projecting for the west, and what information and tools scientists use to make these drought projections.

1 page

Download this sheet for some quick tips for saving water in the kitchen, as well as guidance on longer-term investments you may want to consider for a more serious commitment to water conservation.

Article

Drought is a natural disaster, just like wildfires, floods and tornadoes, but you and your family probably don't have drought drills or a drought emergency plan. Why not? Drought can threaten energy, food and water supplies, and lead to other types of disasters such as those fires and floods. In this activity, make a drought emergency kit to make sure you and your family are prepared.

Section 5: Adapting to Life in a Drier Climate
04:44

As droughts become more frequent and intense, you may want to approach water conservation as a way of life, rather than a temporary emergency response. In this lesson, learn about long-term adaptations you can make to your home and yard for maximum water savings.

Article

Rain barrels can be great tools to help you make the most of precipitation. In this activity, learn how to build your own barrel for use in your home and yard.

Article

Making your home and yard water efficient can be a significant investment. Fortunately, there are many types of rebates available to help offset these initial costs. Check out this activity to help find rebates in your area.

1 page

Download this sheet for some quick tips for saving water in the bathroom, as well as guidance on longer-term investments you may want to consider for a more serious commitment to water conservation.

Section 6: Conclusion
00:56

As the country faces the challenges of managing scarce water resources, it's important to remember that individuals play a key role in conserving water.

1 page

Feeling like you've just taken a dunk in some alphabet soup? Consult the acronym list to look up any abbreviations you're not familiar with.

9 pages

Our information comes from trusted scientific institutions, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Use this resource to see the source material for the information presented in this course.

15 pages

Did you see an image in the course that you want to know more about? Use this reference list of all our visual aids to see where they came from.

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Instructor Biography

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) is the nation's leading organization in lifelong environmental learning, connecting people to knowledge they use to improve the quality of their lives and the health of the planet. This is achieved by providing knowledge to trusted professionals and other leaders who, with their credibility, amplify messages to national audiences to solve environmental problems. Our vision is that “By 2022, 300 million Americans will actively use environmental knowledge to ensure the well-being of the earth and its people."

NEEF partners with non-profit organizations, businesses, schools and federal agencies that are trusted by the U.S. public and can—through joint ventures with NEEF—credibly convey environmental knowledge to live by. NEEF's programs focus on the four key areas that are priorities for the American public—Weather and Climate, Health, Public Lands, Education.

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