After successfully completing this course, the student will:
- have an in-depth overview of the functioning of the hydrological cycle as part of the climate system;
- have attained knowledge about the impact of climate change and climate variability on terrestrial hydrological fluxes such as precipitation, evaporation, river runoff and sediment yield;
- have attained knowledge about the interaction between hydrological states and fluxes and the climate system, including feedbacks related to soil moisture, carbon, ice, snow and the thermohaline circulation;
- appreciate the many sources of uncertainty in climate change projections that are caused from an incomplete description of terrestrial hydrological cycle and have seen examples of running debates and controversies.
Traditionally, the terrestrial part of the hydrological cycle is mainly studied by hydrologists while the atmospheric part is left to atmospheric science. As a consequence, apart from the study of evaporation, the two sciences have shown but limited interaction. The last two decades however, have shown an increased interest in climate change an its impacts, not only by the atmospheric science community, but also by hydrologists. The first studies on hydrology and climate that were performed by hydrologists mainly focussed on the impact of climate change and variability on the water balance and river discharge. Recently, atmospheric scientist have turned more and more to hydrology to come up with better land-atmosphere parameterisations in order to improve climate models and weather prediction. These developments together have led to an almost separate hydrological discipline called 'climate hydrology' where hydrological systems are viewed as part of the climate system being both influenced by climate change and variability, as well as constraining the climate system through positive and negative feedbacks. The study of the hydrological cycle in the context of the climate system has developed sufficiently to warrant a self-contained course on the subject.
The course consists of 20 separate sessions of half a day each, in which a separate subject is treated by an expert. The sessions consist of a) lectures providing a state-of-the-art review on the subject; b) the introduction of on going controversies and big open questions regarding the subject using a number of key paper; c) discussion of controversies, big questions and possible venues of new research with the course attendants. The course outline is as follows:
- The global climate system
- The role of the hydrological cycle in the climate system
- Climate scenarios
- The physics and measurements of evaporation
- Physics of evaporation and the atmosphere boundary layer
- Measurements and physics of precipitation
- Land surface Hydrology
- Land surface schemes and climate models
- Ocean-atmosphere general circulation models
- Mountain Hydrology
- Dynamics of Glaciers, Ice sheets and global sea-level
- Climate Change impact on freshwater supply and demand
- Feedback mechanisms: Climate, Soil Moisture and groundwater
- Feedback mechanisms: Fresh water outflux and thermohaline circulation
- Feedback mechanisms: Land use and carbon
- Climate Change: is the hydrological cycle speeding up Climate change: is the hydrological cycle speeding up?
- Climate change: hydrological impact studies
- Remote sensing: evaporation, vegetation, soil water content.