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Water Resources and River Management



[BSc], ID, S

Admission Requirements

The only prerequisite is that students have completed GC Earth and/or have an appropriate background and aptitude for the natural sciences.


Are floods and droughts becoming more frequent and severe? Are such hydrologic “disasters” triggered by natural or human causes? What are the implications of climate change to flood risk, agriculture, river erosion, infrastructure, and aquatic ecology? What do these changes in water resources imply to human and biophysical sustainability? The answer to these questions is at the core of modern hydrologic sciences.

Hydrology is an interdisciplinary science that considers the processes controlling the distribution and movement of Earth’s water, as well as its physical, chemical, and ecological interactions with Earth’s surface. The goal of this course is to provide a broad and rigorous overview of the field of physical hydrology within a watershed framework. Specific topics will include climatic controls, infiltration, runoff, groundwater, channel hydraulics and streamflow, flood mechanisms, river and floodplain management, water resources, and global environmental change. Students will be exposed to modern theory and practical methods of hydrologic sciences through lectures, class discussion, and practical assignments.

Course Objectives

  • A comprehensive and rigorous understanding of Earth’s hydrologic cycle,

  • Employ basic quantitative procedures to calculate indices of streamflow and hydrologic variability,

  • Integrate specific subfields of hydrology within a “watershed framework”,

  • Understands the consequences of different human impacts to Earth’s surface from the standpoint of drainage basin hydrology,

  • Understands the appropriate methodological approaches to study different subfields of hydrology,

  • Through independent investigation and teamwork the student is able explore a specific topic within the hydrological sciences by completion of a final report,

  • Develops a strong interdisciplinary understanding of the importance of the hydrologic sciences for managing various environmental change scenarios,

  • Understands the role of hydrological sciences to the broader subject of sustainability.

Mode of Instruction

Each class topic includes and/or reviews 1. Relevant processes and/or methods, 2. Human impacts to environmental processes, and 3. Direct and indirect linkages to sustainability and management. The course is taught in a lecture and open discussion format, and students expected to contribute to class discussion. To assure optimal participation students are required to have read prior to coming to class.

Laptops, phones, and other digital media are not allowed unless requested by the instructor.


To be confirmed in course syllabus:

Students will be assessed in several ways, including individual and group work. Modes of assessment include exams, laboratory assignments, a final report, and class participation (see table below). The overall rationale of the assignments and exams is to assess the student’s ability to master new concepts and techniques pertaining to hydrological processes and sustainability (broadly), including analysis and reporting of data, synthesis of scientific literature, and scientific writing.

  • Exams (60%): two exams at 30% each. The exams will assess students conceptual and quantitative understanding of lecture topics and written material. The second exam is comprehensive.

  • Lab (15%): The lab is designed to provide students with practical experience, including working with applying quantitative approaches to analysis of hydrologic data, and will include a report (with figures and tables).

  • Report (20%): The Report is designed so that students are able to demonstrate a depth of knowledge of a single topic, and are aware of the appropriate methods to conduct a hydrological based procedure as well as the scientific literature in their field. Additionally, the Final Report will demonstrate skills in communicating data through charts and figures.

  • Class participation (5%): To foster learning by active communication, contribution to class ideas (positive feedbacks).


  • Jones, J.A.A. 1997. Global Hydrology: Processes, Resources, and Environmental Management. Prentice Hall (ISBN-10: 0582098610, ISBN-13: 9780582098619), 416 pp.

  • UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme: “Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk’

  • Short readings on Internet sites and on Blackboard.

Contact Information

Dr. Paul Hudson,

Weekly Overview

Week 1:
Hydrologic cycle, water budgets, and water resources and scarcity
Jones: Ch. 1, 2
UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme: “Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk’ (Ch. 1)

Week 2:
Atmospheric: Earth’s general circulation, global environmental change, evapotranspiration
Jones: Ch. 2, 3
Ruddiman: Climate System chapter (on Blackboard)

Week 3
Groundwater resources, runoff and land degradation
Jones: Ch. 3, 4, 5

Week 4:
Streamflow, hydrologic data analysis, impact of dams
Jones: Ch. 5, 6, 7

Week 5:
River dynamics: erosion and sedimentation
Jones: Ch. 8, 9

Week 6:
Floodplains and flood risk
Jones: Ch. 7, 10, 11
Report due

Week 7:
Coastal and deltaic, sea level rise, integrated drainage basin management
Jones: Ch. 10, 11

Week 8:
Test II

Preparation for first session

Chapter 1: UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme: “Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk’