Catchment Response Analysis


Course Objective

The objectives of the course are to provide the student with scientific
theory, tools and methods for understanding and evaluating the response
of a catchment to precipitation in terms of surface water flows. This
requires knowledge about processes regulating the flow of water on the
land surface and in river channels, the techniques for quantification of
surface water flows and statistical methods for predicting extreme
runoff events. In addition, experience with surface water flow modelling
for predicting the behaviour of rivers under different land use or
climate conditions should be acquired.

The course contributes to the Knowledge and Understanding and
Application of Knowledge and Understanding final attainment levels of
the Msc Hydrology Programme. Knowledge and understanding is obtained
through the studying of theory as provided in the textbook, during
the oral lectures and through self-study of scientific papers on
rainfall-runoff response topics. Knowledge and understanding is applied
in the setting up and execution of a rainfall-runoff model and the
critical evaluation of the model simulation with measured data.

Course Content

The course consists of three main topics. We start with runoff processes
leading to stormflow. This is followed by lectures on different
hydrological modelling practices, and goodness-of-fit criteria. Finally,
an overview of hydrodynamic and hydraulic theory that governs flow in
open channels is given as well as an overview of discharge measuring
Topics are hill slope hydrology, hydrograph analysis, statistical
methods to describe and quantify spatial and temporal variation in
catchment runoff and reservoir and flow routing in hydrology
The spectrum of available models for runoff modelling, from classical
lumped models to data-demanding distributed, physically-based
hydrological models, will also be discussed. Finally, theory and
understanding will be applied in a series of modelling exercises
applying the HBV-light rainfall – runoff model to simulate runoff of the
Dinkel River in East Netherlands.

Teaching Methods

The tuition consists of eleven classroom lectures and four computer
modelling workshop sessions. The number of contact hours is in the order
of 42.

Method of Assessment

The assessment is through a written exam (80%) and assessment of a
selection of assignments and the modelling workshop report (20%). Grades
of both assessments should be at
least a 5.5

Entry Requirements

The student should be familiar with the subjects of the BSc course
Introduction to Hydrology and Climatology (AB_1074)


Main Textbook:
S.L. Dingman, 2015. Physical hydrology, 3rd edition. ISBN:

Articles (provided on Canvas)

McGlynn, B. L.; McDonnel, J. J. & Brammer, D. D., A review of the
evolving perceptual model of hillslope flowpaths at the Maimai
catchments, New Zealand. Journal of Hydrology , 2002, 257, 1 - 26

Seibert, J. & Vis, M. J. P. Teaching hydrological modeling with a
user-friendly catchment-runoff-model software package. Hydrology and
Earth System Sciences, 2012, 16, 3315-3325

Selection of Reader "Hydrology of catchments, rivers and deltas",
TUDelft, 2016

Chapter 5 of Hydrodynamics, surface water hydraulics and catchment
rainfall– runoff response analysis, by A.A.van der Griend and
M.J.Waterloo, 2014

Extra optional articles:

Kirchner, J. W. Catchments as simple dynamical systems: Catchment
characterization, rainfall-runoff modeling, and doing hydrology
backward. Water Resources Research, 2009, 45, W02429

Blöschl, G. Wilderer, P. (Ed.). Scaling and Regionalization in
Hydrology. Treatise on Water Science , Elsevier, 2011, 519 - 535

Target Audience

First-year M.Sc. Hydrology students, students from Earth Sciences, Earth
and Economy or Natural Sciences M.Sc. programmes.

Additional Information

The course is open for participation to students from alternative M.Sc.
programmes at the VU University Amsterdam, or from other universities.
If you are a professional and wish to attend this course you can also
participate on a contract basis. In both cases please do contact the
course coordinator to find out if you fulfill the background knowledge
requirements and for enrollment procedures.

Recommended background knowledge

The student should have a good background knowledge of mathematics and
physics at BSc level and have basic computer skills. In addition, the
student should have basic knowledge of Earth Science, as provided by the
System Earth course (AB_450067).

General Information

Course Code AM_450003
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. ir. M.C. Westhoff
Examiner dr. ir. M.C. Westhoff
Teaching Staff dr. ir. M.C. Westhoff

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: