Climate Hydrological Processes


Course Objective

Present-day climate change is already increasing the intensity and/or
frequency of some types of extreme weather events. A key challenge for
environmental scientists today is to assess the likely societal impacts
from future changes in hydro-meteorological extremes, with heavy
rainfall leading to flooding and persistent dry conditions leading to
drought-related impacts. To do such impact assessments, scientists have
to rely on global climate models in combination with local
hydro-meteorological impact models. This process is associated with
substantial uncertainty for example because those models operate at
different spatial resolution. To be able to properly interpret future
impact studies, one needs to understand the most relevant physical
processes within the climate system and the hydrological cycle and how
those processes are represented in models. This will be the focus of
this course.

This course aims to provide students a solid understanding of the
climate system including the most important underlying physical
processes, its overall characteristics and its variability. The focus
will be towards the intimate links between the climate system, the
hydrological cycle and the large-scale atmospheric circulation. We will
analyse which type of weather extremes have increased in intensity
already and what kind of changes are to be expected for the near future.

Key goals for students to reach at the end of the course are:
• To understand basic radiative transfer, the greenhouse effect and the
role of water and clouds on global climate and climate change
• To understand the fundamental drivers of tropical circulation and its
implications for rainfall in the tropical belt (inter-tropical
convergence zone, Hadley circulation, desert regions, monsoons, ENSO,
• To understand the fundamental drivers of extra-tropical circulation
and its implications for rainfall outside the tropics (Coriolis effect,
storm tracks, jet streams, NAO).
• To understand local rain and cloud formation processes.
• To learn how some type of extreme weather events are changing due to
global warming and why.
• To learn how climate models work, their usefulness and their
• To understand what challenges need to be overcome to do future impact
assessments of hydro-meteorological extremes and what type of
uncertainties are involved.
• To develop basic data processing skills and analyse rainfall extremes
in observational data.
• To develop basic scientific presentation and discussion skills

Course Content

This course consists of several sessions going into different subjects
related to Climate Hydrology. These sessions will consist of lectures by
the professors with interactive discussion; some practical assignments,
and student presentations & discussions. You will team up in pairs of
two (maybe three) students to present a recent scientific paper which
discusses the state-of-the-art of a particular lecture-topic. The day
before presenting this, you are expected to hand in a short resume of
paper and presentation. During these presentation sessions, all students
are expected to participate in discussions.

Method of Assessment

The course will be assessed through a written closed book examination
based on the compulsory readings and the lectures. Also questions
related to insights learned during the computer exercises can be asked.
There may be some quantitative question where a small calculation has to
be made, so please bring a calculator. This closed book examination
counts for 70% of the final grade. Furthermore, students will be paired
up to present a scientific paper and discuss this in class. The day
before presenting this, students are expected to hand in a short resume
of paper and presentation. The short resume and presentation/discussion
in class will together constitute 30% of the final grade.
The computer exercises will not be graded. They are, however, a
compulsory part of the course and need to be handed in via Canvas.
Students will not receive a final grade if not all computer exercises
have been handed in.


Apart from attending the sessions, you are expected to study the
readings associated with the lectures (‘compulsory reading’) before
attending them. This helps you both to actively engage in discussions
during our meetings, and also makes it easier to prepare for the final
exam at the end of the course.
The readings are provided as chapters and papers and aim to give you a
broad understanding of Climate Hydrology as befits a master’s program.
However, you will be examined only on some elements of the course; in
other words you do not have to memorize entire pieces of text. The
structure of the lectures in class will help you identify the key
questions on which you will be examined.

General Information

Course Code AM_1196
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. D. Coumou
Examiner dr. D. Coumou
Teaching Staff dr. D. Coumou

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Computer lab
Target audiences

This course is also available as: