MTMG44-Hydrology and global environmental change

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Nigel Arnell


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module covers topics in hydrology and global environmental change



  • To develop an understanding of the physical processes involved in the hydrological cycle and their importance both meteorologically and in a wider context;
  • To understand the methods of measurement and estimation of key parameters in the hydrological cycle and have a critical appreciation of the limitations of these methods;
  • To understand basic techniques used in modelling hydrological processes and have a critical appreciation of the limitation of these methods.
  • To develop an awareness of the relationship between global environmental change and hydrological systems

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module students should be able to:

  • Describe the physical processes which give rise to the transport of water through the hydrological cycle;
  • Give order of magnitude estimates of global stocks, rates of transport and residence times for stages within the cycle;
  • Describe instrumentation and methods of measurement or estimation for the various components of the hydrological cycle;
  • Write down equations describing the surface water budget on a global and local scale.
  • Describe the significance of the hydrological cycle in the context of both local and global energy budgets.
  • Describe simple, hydrological catchment models and discuss their limitations and areas of application.
  • Discuss how the hydrological cycle is dealt with in meteorological models
  • Explain the significance of the hydrological cycle in the context of climate and climate change
  • Discuss the implications of human interventions on the hydrological cycle

Additional outcomes:
Students will improve their skill in problem solving and data analysis

Outline content:

  • Introduction: scope and importance of the hydrological cycle on a global and local scale. Outline of the components of the cycle. Fluxes and stores of water on a global scale.
  • Precipitation: measurement by gauges, radar and satellite. Variations in space and time. Area estimates. Extreme values.
  • Evaporation: physics of evaporation. Actual and potential evaporation. Interception. Methods of measurement. Methods of calculation (e.g. Penman, Bowen ratio).
  • Soil moisture: characterisation of soils. Physics of water movement in soils. Infiltration and percolation.
  • Run off and river flow. Streamflow generation; flow measurement.
  • Effect of human interventions on hydrological regimes
  • Links between atmosphere, oceans and the hydrological cycle on land
  • Catchment modelling: Simulating river flows from rainfall and evaporation
  • Climate and weather models: water budget modelling for climate and weather simulation.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures and problem classes

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 18
Guided independent study 82
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 33
Class test administered by School 67

Summative assessment- Examinations:
2 hours.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:
50% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
For candidates who fail, an opportunity to resit will be provided within the lifetime of the course.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 20 June 2018


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