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The objectives of this course are to: (1) provide theoretical understanding and practical experience with the most common measurement techniques relevant to hydrology and watershed science; and (2) provide training in collecting, analysing, and presenting scientific data.

The methods that will be used to achieve these objectives include lectures, readings, directed field exercises, lab and homework assignments, field trips, and a final exam. There will be at least one all-day field trip to make discharge and stream channel measurements. These data will be presented and discussed in class the following week.


There is no single text that covers the material presented in this course, but some of the chapters and appendices in Forest Hydrology by Mingteh Chang cover some aspects of the course as indicated in the course schedule. References for other sections are available online (see particularly the numerous USGS publications at (External Link) ), and additional materials will be provided as handouts.

Projected grading:

Major lab reports:

Meteorologic measurements: 20-25%

Stream measurements: 20%

Other lab exercises and reports (3): 30-35%

Class participation and attendance: 0-10%

Final exam (take-home): 20-25%

Total: 100%

Office hours:

Monday and Wednesday afternoons 3:00-5:00, Room 203, VFU Guesthouse

Tentative schedule

Week 1: Course outline, student desires; Traditional measurements (rainfall, temperature relative humidity, wind); Chang Appendix A, pp. 377-388);

Week 2: Wind; evaporation; solar radiation; groundwater levels; Advantages and disadvantages of electronic data collection; tour weather station; rainfall erosivity and RF program if time;

Week 3: Soil moisture; begin monitoring;

Week 4: Surveying, groundwater levels, groundwater gradients (Dunne and Leopold, Chapter 7);

Week 5: Stream classification and channel characteristics (bankfull, slope, bed material);

Week 6: Discharge measurements and rating curves; pebble counts; thalweg profile; (Chang Appendix B, pp. 389-403; Buchanan and Somers, Discharge Measurements at Gaging Stations, (External Link) ; Kennedy, Levels at Streamflow Gaging Stations; (External Link) );

Week 7: Field trip to collect discharge and other stream data;

Week 8: Analysis and presentation of field trip data;


Week 11: Infiltration and hydraulic conductivity;

Week 12: Sediment measurements in streams: suspended load and bedload (Chang Appendix C, pp. 411-429; Field Methods for Measurement of Fluvial Sediment, (External Link) );

Week 13: Water quality 1: site selection, temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen (Prof. John Stednick);

Week 14: Water quality 2: turbidity, nitrate, phosphate, hardness, alkalinity, quality assurance/quality control;

(Prof. John Stednick)

Week 15: Erosion processes and measurements: erosion pins and bridges; rainfall simulators; Gerlach troughs and erosion plots; sediment fences; (Chang Chapter 11);

Week 16: Flumes, weirs, and other discharge measurements (dilution techniques); (Chang Appendix B, pp. 403-410); Hydrologic connectivity; Wrap-up.

Final exam:

8 June: 09:15-11:00

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Field measurements in hydrology. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10769/1.1
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