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The University of Southampton

GEOG2038 Environmental Modelling for Catchment Management

Module Overview

This module builds on GEOG2039 (Concepts and Methods for Environmental Management) by using the process understanding and conceptual model that have been developed therein to setup and parameterise a GIS based catchment hydrological model to explore ‘what-if’ scenarios of climate and land use change in Poole Harbour. The model will be used to establish how various catchment outputs such as water, sediment and nutrient discharge might change under various scenarios of environmental change on temporal scales pertinent to catchment management plans. Students will use the modelling tool in conjunction with climate predictions to assess the extent to which a chosen catchment management team needs to incorporate mitigation against change in future plans. The two modules together present a holistic overview of how to develop process understanding within a catchment historical context, use these to develop a conceptual model and subsequently setup a numerical model and use this tool to explore scenarios of change at management appropriate timescales and beyond.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the key components of a model and the trade-offs that must be addressed when running them.
  • Be able to demonstrate how a model can be setup and run to replicate some observed processes and behaviour (model calibration and validation).
  • Be capable of defining an experimental approach that allows the model to be used to explore scenarios of change in a meaningful and statistically robust way.
  • Have refined literature review techniques in preparation for the dissertation.
  • Be proficient in quantitatively and graphically comparing model outputs to best analyse the response and present the results.


The module will combine theory and hands-on use of GIS and models through the use of a combination of lectures and computer practicals. Specific theoretical content covered includes: ? What are models and what is modelling ? Spatial and temporal scaling in models ? Exploring scenarios of change: experimental design ? Hydrological models – where does the water go? ? Model discretisation, parameterisation and calibration ? Uncertainty and sensitivity in models Students will also undertake the following practical elements: ? Set-up (parameterise) and run an off-the-shelf GIS based catchment hydrological model ? Use climate projections and land use change scenarios to explore potential future change ? Assess outputs quantitatively and using high quality plots and figures ? Establish the relative magnitude of impacts resulting from catchment management and/or mitigation techniques

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will consist of lecture based theory supported by computer based practical classes. The material will be delivered so that a preceding lecture covers the material relevant to the next practical, ensuring that students are practising what they are hearing in the lecture room. Personal Academic Tutors will support this module through delivery of 2 x supervision sessions in the first half of the course. These sessions will be used specifically to assist students with undertaking assessment 1 (see below) a 2000 word literature review. PGR demonstrators, alongside academic colleagues, will offer practical assistance and advice during the practical classes.

Independent Study118
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment? (2000 words) 45%
Experiential and skills building exercises? () 10%
Final Report? (2000 words) 45%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay? (3500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: GEOG2039 and GEOG2010

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