NIGK15027U Surface Hydrology

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Environmental Science
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics with a minor subject



The course adds on to fundamental understanding of surface hydrology and addresses interactions between hydrology and carbon cycle processes. The course’s focus is on measurements and estimation of precipitation, run off and evapotranspiration; we evaluate the most common methods for estimation of theses parameters and discuss the uncertainties associated with both measurement and modelling methods. Emphasis will be put in the understanding of transport of energy and water in the lower parts of the atmosphere, on how the surface energy balance controls the evapotranspiration from the surface, and on how ecosystem responses to drought and other drivers affect transpiration and ecosystem processes. Sensitivity to prevailing climatic parameters is discussed in relation to the water balance components and effects on surface hydrology of potential changes in climate and land-use effects are assessed.

Learning Outcome


Students can expect to obtain advanced understanding of the components in the water balance of the surface, how these are affected by the prevailing climate, and how these interact with ecosystems. Learning will be obtained through working with measured and modelled data.


  • Ability to access and correct precipitation, run off and evapotranspiration in the Danish landscape.
  • Understand the role of vegetation and soil properties in the transport of water and the exchange between vegetation, soil and atmosphere.
  • Ability to address these processes with quantitative descriptions and ecosystem models
  • Understand measurements techniques and uncertainties



  • Evaluate the sensitivity of climatic parameters on estimation of evapotranspiration, through the use of Penman –Monteith Ep model
  • Fundamental understanding of environmental biophysics and biogeography
  • Handle large datasets related to water balance and meteorological components
  • Ability to structure a written assignments and present results related to surface hydrology.

Textbook and additional materials, please see Absalon course page for details.

BSc in Geography and Geoinformatics or equivalent hydrological background is recommended.
Lectures, computer exercises and student presentations in class. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, during course
Oral examination, 20 min
Type of assessment details
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.

Re-submission of written assignment, 20 minutes oral examination. The written assignment must be handed in prior to the re-examination week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list.

Criteria for exam assesment

Please see learning outcomes