Climatology & Hydrology

University of Queensland

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Climatology & Hydrology

  • Host University

    University of Queensland

  • Location

    Brisbane, Australia

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    GEOS1100 or GN100

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Host University Units

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Description
    This course provides an introduction to the physical processes governing the atmosphere (climatology) and water on the earth's surface (hydrology). The first half of the course will cover atmospheric motion at a range of scales space-time scales, synoptic circulation and weather, and causes of climatic variation. The second half of the course will cover how water is partitioned at the earth's surface, including rainfall, runoff, infiltration, groundwater, and eco-hydrology. In each part of the course, the importance of understanding climate and hydrology will be highlighted through reference to problems facing the planet where these skills are needed, such as: extreme weather, ENSO and drought, flooding, and water scarcity. This course provides an excellent foundation for further study in geography, environmental management, environmental science, earth science, and engineering.
    Learning Objectives
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:
    1. Explain the fundamental principles that govern atmospheric motion at a range of space-time scales in the Australian region
    2. Interpret weather maps and know of their significance in terms of expected local weather
    3. Understand the causes of drought in eastern Australia
    4. Recognize all principal cloud types and know of their significance with regard to the state of the atmosphere
    5. Understand the main processes leading to cloud formation and precipitation
    6. Monitor and describe local weather using appropriate scientific nomenclature
    7. Identify key hydrological processes and how they are measured
    8. Have a general understanding of surface water modelling; why it is used and the different types of models employed
    9. Understand groundwater processes, how they are measured and how they interact with surface water
    10. Understand the importance of environmental flows, how they are quantified and modelled
    11. Manipulate hydrological data and use it to assess catchment behaviour.
    Class Contact
    2 Lecture hours, 2 Practical or Laboratory hours
    Weather Monitoring Report
    Type: Report
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6
    Due Date: Mid Semester
    Weight: 25%
    Task Description:
    Your task is to:
    1) monitor and report on the daily weather experienced in the Brisbane area from 24th August to 30th August 2015 (7 days) and its association with the changing synoptic scale weather patterns over the 7 day period, and
    2) to relate this information to local air quality monitored by the Department of Environmenta and Hertitage Protection at their Brisbane CBD monitoring site.
    Your report should include a daily summary of local meteorological conditions including, but not limited to, wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, precipitation and cloud form. These observations are to be set in context against a discussion of the prevailing synoptic scale circulation patterns. This is extremely important as no atmospheric phenomenon is discrete, but instead is part of a continuum, i.e. the development of a sea breeze along the coastline of southeast Queensland is dependent on clear skies and weak synoptic pressure gradients, which are typically associated with the presence of an anticyclone. However, these conditions may also result in poor ventilation of the boundary layer leading to poor air quality in urban areas. Therefore, you should demonstrate in your report an understanding of the linkages between atmospheric processes at a range of space-time scales, and how these influence local air quality. Highlight any notable meteorological events which result in severe or unusual weather such as storms, flooding or damaging winds, or unusually high levels of air pollution. Be original and creative in the presentation of supporting data. Remember that large and/or excessive use of tables to present data is not an effective format to relay information to the reader. In some cases this may detract from the readability of your essay and result in a lower than expected grade.
    Sources of Information:
    The principal sources of data for your study will come from the World-Wide-Web. Local meteorological conditions are monitored on campus by our automatic weather station located on the Social Sciences building. This data can be accessed via the Web at This site also has a live web cam for cloud observations. Air qulaity data for Brisbane can be found at; This site also provides background material on air quality as well as access to historical data.
    The Bureau of Meteorology ( has an excellent site providing links to current satellite and weather radar images, synoptic analyses (weather maps) and current observations from other weather stations in the Brisbane area. However, much of this information is not archived and you should therefore arrange to access such data on a daily basis ? perhaps rostered with a group of friends. You should also keep a weather log of your own observations, i.e. cloud cover, type and height, wind direction, rainfall etc. Do NOT ring or visit government offices or agencies (Federal, State or Local) in order to undertake this assignment.
    A maximum word limit of 2500 words is set for this assignment (plus or minus 10%; penalties apply to under length or over length essays). Use illustrations and additional supporting information as appropriate and acknowledge the source of all material which is not original, such as satellite and radar images. Remember that the omission of references may be interpreted as plagiarism.
    Your assignment should be presented in report format and must be typed on A4 paper. Make effective use of diagrams, photographs and tables, and use computer generated graphics wherever possible. Do not repeat information given in diagrams or tables. Avoid excessive tabulation of data. If however, the quantity of data is large and you consider that it should be made available to the reader, then place it in an Appendix. DO NOT use footnotes. References should follow the Harvard system of which examples can be found in most Geography texts and the Assessment Handbook. This handbook is available in the library and on the School of Geography, Planning and Architecture homepage. Please attach an assignment cover sheet to the front page of your report.
    Check the assessment dates below for the exact deadline. Completed assignments must be deposited at the School of GPEM Office with an appropriate cover sheet. No turnitin facility will operate for this assessment item.
    You must also keep a digital copy of your assessment and may be asked to submit a digital copy for plagiarism detection at the request of the course coordinator. Failure to supply a digital copy and to permit the use of plagiarism detection software and analysis will result in a failure for this assessment item and may also result in additional disciplinary action.
    Hydrology Report
    Type: Report
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 2, 3, 6, 7, 11
    Due Date: Mid-Late September
    Weight: 25%
    Task Description:
    To analyse the hydrologic behaviour of a river in South East Queensland (SEQ) for a specific rainfall event.
    Heavy rain often causes flooding in the SEQ region. You have been asked to investigate the characteristics of an particular event. Your report will use raw data to analyse and discuss the event characteristics and implications. This report will build on the skills developed in the hydrology tutorials. You will be supplied with raw rainfall and streamflow data both for the event (high resolution data) and also longer-term daily data. This assignment will require you to work through the tutorials and analyse these data as the basis for your report. The report requires you to answer specific questions using your data analysis as the basis for a discussion. The assignment is based around a report that a hydrologist may be asked to complete, that oulines why an event occurred and the implications.
    You should use the types of analyses covered in the tutorials and the field trip as the basis for the analysis of the characteristcis of the event, its: hydroclimatology, magnitude, frequency, variability and impact. The report must then use this data as the basis for your discussion of the topics/questions of interest. You will be given a series of questions in class that you will be asked to explore/answer in the report that relate to this event.
    This report MUST use a scientific report syle, and MUST include the following sections:
    • (Signed) Cover sheet
    • Title Page
    • Contents Page, including a "List of Figures" and a "List of Tables"
    • Introduction
    • Study Setting
    • Results
    • Discussion & Conclusions
    • References
    • Appendices
    Final Course Exam
    Type: Exam - during Exam Period (Central)
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10
    Due Date: Examination Period
    Weight: 50%
    Reading: 10 minutes
    Duration: 120 minutes
    Format: Multiple-choice, Short answer
    Task Description: Exam consisting of multichoice and short answer questions. More information will be provided in class toward the end of semester

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

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Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.