UCL Department of Geography
GEOGG101 Surface Water Modelling
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GEOGG101 Surface Water Modelling

(15 credits; Term 2)

Jon French, Julian Thompson

·    to outline the principles of surface water modelling
·    to introduce a variety of different mathematical modelling approaches, and the software available with which to implement them, with particular reference to the hydrodynamics of coastal and estuarine systems and catchment hydrology
·    to provide ‘hands on’ experience of advanced modelling software
·    to encourage a critical approach to the evaluation and application of model-based aquatic and climate change science

The Surface Water Modelling option commences with an introduction to hydrodynamic modelling (including numerical schemes, dimensionality, boundary conditions and the construction of computational meshes and grids). Practical sessions take students through the implementation of a 3D finite element model of a tidal estuary and its sensitivity to climate change and sea-level rise. Hydrological modelling is then introduced, with particular reference to catchments and their sensitivity to climate change, and via a practical using the MIKE-SHE modelling system. The course also covers key issues of model validation and the statistical evaluation of model performance.

The main sessions include:

·    Hydrodynamic modelling (numerical principles, stages in the modelling process, boundary conditions, mesh generation)
·    Modelling of coastal and estuarine waters using SMS and RMA-2
·    Hydrological modelling (catchment-scale models, data requirements, examples and applications)
·    Catchment modelling using Mike-SHE
·    Model validation and performance statistics

Written report based upon a write up of one of two practical exercises (max 2000 words).

The course is based upon lectures, and on supervised and self-paced practical work.

Learning Outcomes:
At the end of the course students should:
·    understand physical basis of surface water modelling (including shallow water equations, parameterisation, numerical schemes)
·    be able to conceptualise and implement a hydrodynamic or hydrological model using widely-available software tools
·    have practical experience of research-level modelling software (e.g. RMA-2, Mike-SHE)
·    have a clearer understanding of the challenges and decisions associated with model implementation and validation of model output
·    have an awareness of the strengths and limitations of surface water models