Course Objective

Ecohydrology is a combination of ecology (study of how organisms
interact with each other and with the natural environment) and hydrology
(study of how water cycles in terrestrial environments). It focuses on
the role of ecosystems in the water cycle of terrestrial landscapes. The
objectives of the course is to provide understanding of the functioning
of ecosystems in relation to water availability and the movement of
water in terrestrial ecosystems under different climates. This
ecohydrological knowledge forms the basis for supporting decisions on
sustainable land use from a water resources point of view. It requires
fundamental theoretical knowledge on plant physiology and on the
exchange of water between the soil, vegetation and the atmosphere. As
such, limitations to ecosystem functioning posed by water availability
in relation to evaporation and transpiration by different plant
communities is a central theme in this course. In addition, the student
needs to learn basic computer programming for meteorological data
processing and analysis.

Course Content

This course describes and discusses basic interactions between the
vegetated land surface, the atmosphere and the hydrosphere. Basic
questions dealt with include: what determines the broad vegetation
patterns of the world, and how do these in turn determine the
ecohydrological behaviour of different vegetation types? This requires
understanding of primary ecohydrological processes (rainfall and cloud
water interception, transpiration, soil moisture dynamics) and feedback
mechanisms between the vegetation and the atmosphere as well as insight
into the measurement, data analysis and modelling of these processes.
The ecohydrological aspects of Dynamic Vegetation Models (DGVMs) will be
discussed. Tropical and temperate deforestation impacts on catchment
hydrological functioning and climate as well as desertification
processes are considered. Ecohydrological processes in boreal and tundra
regions, as well as in montane cloud forests will be discussed in some
detail. Emphasis throughout the course is on a combination of process
understanding, interpretation of experimental results, and modelling.
Finally, a computer programming workshop is included to become familiar
with the basics of computer programming, meteorological data processing,
analysis and rainfall interception modelling.

Teaching Methods

The tuition consists of nine classroom lectures, a half-day student
presentation session and a computer work.

Method of Assessment

Written test on lecture notes and selected literature (65%), computer
assignments (15%), and a presentation to be given on a pre-determined
topic (20%).

Entry Requirements

The student should be familiar with the subjects of the BSc course
Introduction to Hydrology (450024) as detailed in the Introduction to
Hydrology (2012) .


Scientific papers and handouts are provided during the course
via Canvas

Target Audience

First-year MSc Hydrology students, students from alternative Earth
Sciences, Earth and Economy or Natural Sciences MSc 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 basic computer skills

General Information

Course Code AM_450014
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator prof. dr. A.J. Dolman
Examiner prof. dr. A.J. Dolman
Teaching Staff prof. dr. A.J. Dolman

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Computer lab, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: