Water Resources and Environmental Management

Learn to use earth observation and geo-information techniques to create safe and sustainable water management solutions.

Many of the world’s major environmental concerns have to do with water. Potable water is getting increasingly scarce, which makes it a valuable resource to be managed wisely. Extreme weather causes excessive flooding which can often be prevented with proper by interventions. Pollution of valuable water resources and the status of precious wetlands deserve close monitoring. Would you like to contribute to tackling these issues caused by having too little, too much, or dirty water? Then ITC’s specialization in Water Resources and Environmental Management is what you’re looking for.

Timely, accurate, and detailed spatial information on the status of water resources is the key to managing water resources. At ITC you will learn how to utilize theoretical knowledge and develop the skills required for effective water resources management. ITC research areas you could explore include flood prediction, groundwater recharge, drought monitoring and prediction, water quality monitoring, and climate studies. For your own MSc research you’ll be able to join forces with dedicated ITC research group on Water and Climate.


See also the detailed programme overview and programme structure.

Introduction to Hydrological and Environmental Cycles (7 credits)

The concerns of this course is to have a physical process-based understanding of hydrological and environmental processes. It deals with the occurrence, distribution, circulation, and properties of water, energy and carbon.  The hydrological and environmental processes include the physical (e.g. water & energy) and biogeochemical (e.g. carbon) processes through the atmosphere, to the earth, over and beneath the land surface, to the ocean, and back to the atmosphere (e.g. known as water cycle, energy cycle and carbon cycle). These three cycles play the central role in many processes regulating the earth system, where human activity is now inseparable from natural events. The introduction to the concept of these cycles and their main components forms the framework of this course.

Earth Observation of Water Resources (7 credits)

Space agencies use Earth Observations to provide a wealth of spatial information on the present-day water resources, in terms of quantity as well as quality. In this course, students will learn the basic principles on how rainfall, soil moisture, evapotranspiration and water quality affect the electromagnetic signal recorded by Earth Observing sensors. In this course you will learn tools and methods to collect, process, and visualize data on satellite derived rainfall, soil moisture, evapotranspiration and water quality. In addition, calibration/validation methods will be taught on how the accuracy of available data products can be quantified using a set of error metrics.

Principles of Modelling for Water Resources (7 credits)

Integrated water resource assessments have become a prerequisite for sound water management. Under average climatic conditions, emphasis in water management is on water use, water availability and water allocation at basin level, whereas under dry or wet extremes emphasis is on droughts and floods. Moreover, by changes in our climate and by man induced changes in land use, the hydrological cycle may change,  which indicates the need for hydrological impact assessments by modelling.

Leading principles and key aspects of integrated water resource assessments by use of (coupled) hydrological and water resource models, in-situ data and satellite data will be addressed in the course. The stepwise development of a modelling system will be discussed and includes i) identification model input data, ii) assessing uncertainties and identifying water balance errors in representing model processes, iii) setting and optimizing parameters and variables and iv) model performance assessments at different spatial and temporal scales. Development and applications of hydrological models in data poor areas also addressed as a work field of high interest.

In-situ Measurements for Water Resources Monitoring and Management (7 credits)

The analysis of spatial water resources and environmental issues requires a synergistic use of both spatial earth observation methods in and in-situ data. In this course techniques are taught to collect meaningful in-situ data of hydrological and environmental variables that can be used to complement and/or validate earth observation data products. You will be introduced to a number of measurement techniques for water and energy fluxes and concentrations, as well as radiometric measurements. Techniques for data collection, documentation and processing and analysis are taught in order to enable the participant to independently gather, store and present in-situ measurements. In a case study, each participant specializes in one type of measurement technique . CA link is made between data-information-decision making and actual water resources management. Excursions to Water Boards and large water resources projects is included.

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