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Conceptions of Tornado Wind Speed and Land Surface Interactions Among Undergraduate Students in Nebraska

Matthew S. Van Den Broeke, Leilani Arthurs
2015 Journal of Geoscience education  
To ascertain novice conceptions of tornado wind speed and the influence of surface characteristics on tornado occurrence, 613 undergraduate students enrolled in introductory science courses at a large state university in Nebraska were surveyed. Our findings show that students lack understanding of the fundamental concepts that (1) tornadoes are primarily atmospheric phenomena, and (2) they are only weakly influenced by the underlying land surface. A common alternate conception was that land
more » ... n was that land surface features offer protection from tornadoes. For example, many students thought that (1) tornadoes generally cannot occur over snow cover or in mountainous terrain, (2) locally lower areas and hills provide protection from tornadoes, and (3) cities are not as susceptible to tornadoes as surrounding areas. Students also lacked an accurate conception of the wind speed in strong tornadoes. Ó
doi:10.5408/14-029.1 fatcat:l4h4uduvcjhr3ccufe23jmrdra