The Hydrology master's programme provides the student with sound scientific knowledge of how water cycles through the Earth’s atmosphere, surface and groundwater systems and how water quantity and quality are modified due to natural processes, or in response to human interference with the water cycle (e.g. pollution, land use change, etc.). This knowledge is a prerequisite for the sustainable use of our water resources that are being threatened by the continuous increase in the world’s population and the associated increase in water use and agricultural and industrial pollution. As water issues are often not restricted to a single country, the Master’s programme is strongly oriented to provide an international perspective.
The programme is strong in both hydrogeology and ecohydrology. Hydrogeology deals with (un)saturated groundwater and surface water flows on a local to regional scale (0-500 km), groundwater exploration and water quality issues in relation to the geology and land-use. Groundwater and surface water flow patterns and associated variations in the chemical composition of water due to interaction with the environment are assessed using a combination of lectures, field studies and hydrological and hydrochemical modelling workshops. Exploration and water resources assessments are made through application of water balance techniques, geophysical techniques and chemical and isotope tracer methods. Ecohydrology focuses on processes regulating the hydrological cycle and how these are affected by changes occurring at the land surface in response to human activities (e.g. deforestation, climate change). It combines micro-meteorology, (forest) hydrology, Quaternary geology, and environmental sciences to study processes that regulate how water, nutrients, sediment and gases are exchanged between the soil, water, vegetation and the atmosphere. These transfers are studied mostly on small catchment scales. A range of field measurement and sampling techniques are used including micro-meteorology, hydrology, plant physiology, soil physics, chemical isotope tracer methods, in combination with detailed, process-based models.