To learn about the hydrological processes that characterize water resource systems, the modern principles driving their planning and management, and the main tools used to support planning and management decisions at different spatial scales in agricultural or forested systems.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will become familiar with the main tools that can be used for the planning and management of water resources at small and large territorial scales, such as open-field and laboratory monitoring techniques and technologies, GIS for the management and representation of spatial data, available digital carthography, water balance modeling at different spatial scales, principles of integrated and participatory water resource planning. Through two praticals, the student will acquire skills related to the whole process of hydrological modeling, respectively at the agricultural field and at the irrigation district scales: from the retrival of raw data, its processing to obtain model input data and parameters, the design and execution of simulations, to the critical analysis of model results.
Lesson period: Second semester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
CFU 1-2 - Introduction: educational objectives, course contents and exam, material for the course. European and national legislation in the field of water resources. Review of knowledge on hydrological cycle, main hydrological processes and water balance at different spatial scales, hydraulics. CFU 3-4 - Water in the soil and subsoil, laws governing water movements in the unsaturated and saturated zones. The unsaturated zone: water content and potential, retention and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity curves, pedo-transfer functions, law of continuity, Darcy's law and its extension to non-saturated porous media, Richards equation for the unsaturated porous media, modification of the Richards equation in case of vegetated soils, evapotranspiration and laws governing the process, energy balance in vegetated areas. The saturated zone: laws governing water movements in the saturated zone. CFU 5 - Tools and techniques for the monitoring in the field and laboratory of: potential and actual evapotranspiration, crop coefficient, leaf area index, soil bulk density, soil water content, soil matric potential, soil water retention curve, soil hydraulic conductivity, irrigation supply, water table depth. CFU 6 - Hydrological modeling at the field and territorial scales. The process of model building, calibration and validation. Classification of hydrological models and examples of models. Decision support systems (DSS) applied to the integrated and participatory planning of water resources at the basin scale. CFU 7 (computer lab) - An example of a physically based model (solving the Richards equation) for the simulation of hydrological processes at the field scale. Its application to a maize field in the Lodi area. CFU 8 (computer lab) - An example of a conceptual distributed model for the irrigation planning at the irrigation district scale. Its application to a 700 km2 irrigation district in Lombardy.
Prerequisites for admission
In order to successfully follow the course, students should meet the following requirements: - good theoretical basis of hydrology and hydraulics; - a good familiarity with personal computers (Windows environment, word processing and calculation programs).
The course is divided into 6 CFU of frontal lectures (48 hours), of which at least 6 hours delivered through seminar lessons by external lectures, and 2 CFU of practicals in a computer lab (32 hours) in which two hydrological models for the irrigation management and planning will be explored (agricultural field and irrigation district scales). The course includes a technical visit to an Irrigation and Reclamation District. The attendance at lectures and practicals is recommended. Missed lesson can be substituted by self-study using the reference material indicated by the course lecturer.
The material for the course is available on the ARIEL site, and consists of the slides shown during the lectures and of supplementary material, such as reference to book chapters, text of laws, scientific and technical papers, spreadsheets with the implementation of calculation procedures.
Assessement methods and criteria
Course is concluded by an exam. The exam is in oral form and focuses on the theoretical contents of the course (50% of the final evaluation) and on the two practicals carried out in the computer lab (50% of the final evaluation). By the exam registration date, the student must deliver a written report on one of the two practicals. He must also select and read a scientific paper focussing on an application of the hydrological model explored in the second practical excercise in the computer lab (the one not chosen for the report) and illustrate it during the oral exam.
In the week of course interruption (usually end of April, beginning of May), students will be given the opportunity to take a written test on the theoretical contents of the course (4 open-ended questions in a time of 2 hours). If students pass the test, the final oral exam will focus only on the two practicals (discussion of the report and illustration of the scientific paper).