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Did the fire aggravate the flood?

Organization(s):Colegio French
Student(s):Ulises Souto, Ana Belén Ramos Aloi, Fermín Iserte Jaureguiberry, and Agustina Cotroneo
Grade Level:Upper Primary (grades 3-5, ages 8-11)
GLOBE Educator(s):Emiliano Basic
Report Type(s):
Date Submitted:04/25/2013
Screen capture from presentation
The purpose of our project is to analyze the causes, human and natural ones, of the floods in the city of La Plata during the past April 2nd. Apart from determine the natural and human causes of the floods, our research question has to do with finding out if the fire in a distillery near the city had something to do with the severe floods. We worked with atmosphere protocol and gather information in situ and from the internet. We found that the lack of waterworks, intense rainfall and high demographic growth in the last ten years are the main causes of the flood. We could not state the relation between the fire and the flood in a clear and unquestionable way.


How long did the floods last before the water went down? Has your city fixed the problem?
Why do you think you have more intense rainfall?
We enjoyed your project because we have had big rainstorms that have caused flooding in our town too.
Dear Marcy,
the floods lasted for four days approximately but there are problems that haven't been fixed yet. However, the population of Buenos Aires took several measures to help the victims.
We think that we had more intense rainfall because of a local wind called Sudestada.
Dear Teacher and students,
I was very curious to read about your topic! The pictures of the fire, are impressive.

What kind of in situ measurements did you take?
Your precipitation recordings between 18:00 hrs and 23:00 are approximately 2 times those reported by the National Weather Service between 18:00 and 21:00. Would this mean that almost 180 mm rain fell between 21:00 and 23:00?
How far was your rain gauge from the Airport and the University Observatory?
Do you think distances between rain gauges explain differences in measurements?

Dear Inès,
Thank you for being interested in our topic.
Regarding the in situ measurements, we took precipitation measurements by using a rain gauge. Using this tool we figured out that it had rained 180mm in just 5 hours. However, it is unusual to see this kind of weather phenomenon. That is why this was a catastrophe.
When we used the rain gauge, we were a couple of blocks away from the University Observatory, aproximately 50 km away from the Airport.
The difference in the measurements could be explained as a consequence of various storm fronts in different areas at the same time. But we want to make clear that this is a very unusual event.
We hope, we have helped you with our answers.

Colegio French Students.
Dear Students,
Thank you for your quick reply!
I think it is really interesting how you decided to investigate if a human action is responsible for certain environmental phenomena. It is always important, I think, to remember that our actions always cause reactions - big and small!
However, as your principal question is supposed to be the role of the fire in the flood (you clearly define it in the title), I think your final conclusion is too simple .. especially because you tickled the curiosity of the reader!. As scientists, even if at the end we don't have enough data to confirm or reject our hypothesis, if we think it still was an important research question, we can always try to explain why our hypothesis could have been right or wrong. In the future, your reasoning can be picked up by future research projects!

Therefore, here come the questions:
In which way do you think the fire could have affected and not affected the flood? Which other data would you need to collect in the future to (better) address your question?

Many best wishes,
Dear Ines,

As you said, our conclusion was quite simple due to the lack of information that we have as this was a sudden phenomenon and also, we didn’t have enough time to upload the project.
To continue with the project we will need more investigation data in order to get into the topic.
The problem with YPF’s fire is simple as it is explained in the project, that is why didn’t prove the hypothesis.
Thank you!
What do you think limited you the most in performing this research? If you could repeat your project, what would you do differently? And finally, what do you think was the most important information learned from this research?
The fact that there wasn´t a lot of information available and what we could find was messy and confusing. We would totally do this project again because it was interesting and revealed some important information to us regarding the floods. We were able to learn how a natural event can affect so many people, resulting in lots of cassualties.
We totally appreciate your concern about the matter, I hope I was able to help you!
Thank you for your response! I hope you continue to collect data and further investigate this problem for your area.
Your student measurement of the rain fall in this intense storm is quite useful It seems consistent with the university measurement from relatively near by. Did you share this measurement with researchers at the university?

You mention inadequate waterworks for draining the low lying areas of La Plata. What would the students recommend be done to prepare for future large rain events?
Dear Dixon, yes we shared the measurements with researchers at the university, but they had already done more accurate studies in the affected area.

Regarding the waterworks for draining, the students suggested to invest more in a system for a better draining. Moreover, they thought about leaving more green areas instead of destroying them and constructing buildings, as urban areas are less likely to absorb big quantities of water.

Thank you for asking,

Colegio French Students.