Integrated Watershed Management (Integriertes Einzugsgebiets-Management)

Course given at Göttingen University, Module M.Geg.09, 6 credit points, 2 SWS, in German (but can be provided in English, as well)

The landscapes we live in are profoundly affected by our activities. Understanding landscape dynamics ultimately requires the understand the interplay of geo-components (geosphere, atmosphere, toposphere, hydrosphere, pedosphere and biosphere), and especially how these landscapes are managed by us. It is integral to treat landscapes not by means of political or orographic units but by units defined through flowing water: watersheds. In this course you learn the fundamentals of geo-components and especially the water cycle and budget components. You get to know how water in each of these components behaves and can be measured. You also learn the applied aspects, i.e. how water is managed and how different agents (communities, agriculture, industry, tourism, etc.) affect water quality. You learn about aspects of hydrological extremes and how water quality can be compromised and recovered. Foremost, you will follow a decisively quantitative approach: watershed management will be implemented by setting up and parameterising a numerical hydrological model, and using this model to quantify changes to a watershed as emerging from different landuse change scenarios. You will finally apply this knowledge and skill set during a research field practice and subsequent thesis preparation.

The course comprises 12 weekly sessions including some home work tasks, a 4 day field practice, a 1-2 day block seminar and a project thesis. Each of the 12 sessions blends a lecture part on fundamental and theoretical aspects, a hands-on part on data analysis and a lecture part on applied aspects of watershed management. The course was given alternatingly in person and online, using a dedicated landscape of the key study area itself, facilitating group activities online, as a test case for potential future collaborative courses with external universities.

In this course we (1) define the scope, legal aspects, structure and requirements for a semestre, get to know each other and introduce the overall topic. We cover (2) the interplay of geo-components, how landscapes are defined and structured, why a watershed perspective is essential, and discuss processes, functions, and landform patches. (3) We discuss the fundamentals of water as a chemical agent, the water cycle and the water budget approach, the European Water Framework and its implementation in Germany, and start off with a QGIS perspective on the study area, the Seeburger See east of Göttingen. (4) elaborate on how precipitation and evapotranspiration work and can be measured, and we look at drinking water and waste water aspects in Germany. In the hands on part we introduce the R language and RStudio. (5) We examine the fundamentals of water infiltration and perkolation and ground water dynamics. We take a look at R packages and R projects in RStudio and get introduced into R's data types and data structures. We discuss water quality in Germany related to the agriculture and communal scope. (6) We focus on discharge generation and aspects of fluvial dynamics. We start with meteorological time series analysis in R. We discuss water quality aspects related to transport, tourism and fishery in Germany. (7) We learn fundamentals of soil erosion and slope diffusion. We introduce the hydrological model HBV as implemented in R. We discuss the role of the industry, energy and raw material sector for water quality in Germany. (8) We look at river hydraulics and sediment transport aspects. We work with HBV in the semi-distributed mode. We cover applied watershed management aspects of floods and droughts. (9) We elaborate on physical and chemical stream and ground water parameters. We apply our HBV knowledge by modelling the Seeburger See catchment with individual hydrological response units. We look at water contamination sources and mitigation or restauration options. (10) We focus on estuaries and deltas as ultimate watershed outlets. We implement different landuse change scenarios in HBV. We discuss applied coastal protection measures. (11) We take an in depth tour to the history and currect state of the catchment of the Seeburger See. In HBV we learn how to include chemical parameters into the modelling efforts. We discuss organisational aspects of the upcoming field practice part. (12) We do a proper risk analysis and mitigation information tour for the upcoming research practice. We evaluate the entire course up to this point and collect mutual feedback. We discuss open questions arising from the last 11 sessions of the course. (OUTDOOR) We spend a couple of days in our study area, the Seeburger See catchment, giving an introduction on site, explain how measurement devices work and how samples are to be collected and the students then head out to work on the tasks and hypotheses for the practice part. We meet again to present the different teams' preliminary results and their methodological approach to safeguard a proper thesis scope. The thesis prepared by the individual teams will then be collected and graded after 4-5 weeks of preparation time.

Materials to this course (slides, practical work, R notebooks, data sets) can be downloaded here (143 MB zip file, password protected, if you are interested, please contact Michael Dietze).