Water Cycles and Resources: Environmental and Climate Change Impacts

Time: 7.-11.10.2103
Place: Kumpula Campus, Helsinki University
Registration form


Lecturer: Professor Diana Allen, Simon Fraser University, Canada (http://www.sfu.ca/personal/dallen/)

Course Outline
Changes to the water cycle resulting from changes in climate and changes to the broader environment directly impact people and ecosystems. Our understanding of hydrologic system response to climate fluctuations continues to rapidly evolve, building on a substantial and productive research history. Fundamentally, questions remain about changes to water budget components, including precipitation, evapotranspiration, streamflow, and groundwater recharge due to uncertainties in the physical processes themselves and the climate change predictions. Similarly, the suitability of historical records for forecasting is sometimes compromised by persistent natural variations and human driven changes (e.g., urbanization). Managing water resources requires the ability to provide reliable predictions of the response of the water cycle to changing environmental conditions at a range of scales. How will the hydrologic system and associated subsystems respond to, and evolve under, natural and human induced changes in climate and the environment?


In this course, students integrate their knowledge of the hydrological sciences (climate, hydrology, hydrogeology, water chemistry) to understand the various linkages between the sub-disciplines, exploring the water cycle and its relevance to water resources. We will first review climate science from the perspective of climate variability and climate change (causes, past evidence, approaches for making predictions about the future). We will then focus on the various impacts to water cycles over a range of scales, considering both climate and other environmental stressors. The secondary impacts of climate and broader environmental change on the environment (including impacts to humans and aquatic ecosystems) will be explored by focusing on current issues in different regions around the globe to generate ideas for potential adaptive solutions.


Course Topics:

  • Climate Variability and Change: Understanding the past and making predictions into the future.
  • Impacts to Water Cycles: From the catchment scale to global scale (e.g., hydrologic responses, shifting hydrologic regimes).
  • Secondary Impacts and Adaptation:  Water security; food security; energy security; watershed management.


Course Organization: This course will comprise one 2-hour lecture and one 3-hour lab each day. Lab assignments will comprise parts of a final report that will be submitted at the end of the course.

Textbook: Although not required for this course, the textbook by Nigel Arnell, 2002. Hydrology and Global Environmental Change. Prentice Hall. 368 pp. is recommended for additional topics.

Course Grading:

1. Final Report                                                                                                   90%
2. Participation (discussions)                                                                      10%

Student members of the Doctoral Program in Geology from outside the Helsinki metropolitan area will be reimbursed for moderate travel costs (Please indicate your need in the registration form)