28007 - Hydrology and Hydraulic Risk

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Attilio Castellarin (Modulo 1) Alessio Domeneghetti (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Geology and Territory (cod. 9073)

Learning outcomes

The course aims at dealing quantitatively with the basic components of the hydrological cycle: e.g. measurement and modelling of the main hydrological variables. The main objective of the course is illustrating the most popular rainfall-runoff models and providing students with tools for understanding the problems of hydrological modeling and the fundamental concepts and methods for flood hazard and risk assessment and modelling.

Course contents

Hydrological processes: description, measurement and modelling.

Introduction to Hydrology. Hydrological cycle. Description of hydrological processes at different spatial and temporal scales.
Hydrological measurements techniques and instruments.

Precipitation: phenomenology of liquid and solid precipitation, spatial interpolation of point measurements.

Evaporation: evaporation and evapotranspiration, control factors, measurement and modelling of evapotranspiration.

Unsaturated flow: infiltration and controlling factors, Richards' equations, simplified models.

Surface runoff: runoff production mechanisms, Horton and Dunne mechanism.

Rainfall-runoff transformation: fundamentals of rainfall-runoff modeling: instantaneous unit hydrograph, linear models, conceptual models, variable contributing area models. Fundamentals of open channel hydraulics.

Flood hydrology and hydrological risk.

Classical approaches: empirical approaches, rational formula.

Statistical hydrology: interpretation of hydrological variables as random variables. Analyses of observed series of hydrological variables; measure of central tendency and dispersion of random variable samples. Return period. Cumulative probability and probability density function. Representation of samples of experimental observations on probabilistic plots. Flood frequency analysis for design-flood estimation: at-site (with hands-on activity) and regional models. Intensity-duration-frequency curves.

Flood hazard and risk:
Fundamental concepts of Hazard and Risk. Intrinsic Hazard Analysis and Vulnerability Analysis. Determining the level of risk. Flood risk mitigation concepts and civil protection. Structural and non-structural measures (e.g. flood forecasting system and land-use planning).

All lessons will be in Italian. It is therefore necessary to understand the Italian language to successfully attend the course and to be able to use the teaching material.


  • Material supplied by the professor and open web-resources

Textbooks for further information

  • Moisello: Idrologia Tecnica, La Goliardica Pavese
  • Greppi: Idrologia, Hoepli editore
  • Di Rosa (2000): “Rischio Idrogeologico e Difesa del Territorio”. Dario Flaccovio Editore.
  • Ciabatti: Elementi di Idrologia Superficiale. Coop. Libraria Univ. Ed. Bologna.

Teaching methods

Lectures and PC exercises designed to prepare students to the utilization of common hydrological tools and codes. Depending on UniBo guidelines and indications for contrasting COVID-19 outbreak, teaching may be face-to-face and/or online (platform: MS Teams).

Assessment methods

[COVID-19] Guide for online exams

The learning assessment aims at verifying the achievement of learning objectives, i.e. to know the basic concepts required for

  • identifying the most suitable model in relation to the water problem to be solved;
  • developing mathematical models for simulating the main hydrological processes that control the rainfall-runoff transformation;
  • perform basics flood-risk assessments and modeling.

The final exam consists of an oral examination focusing on the theoretical topics covered during classes and practical exercises carried out at the computer. In particular, candidates will have to answer to questions on several the theoretical topics addressed during the course, and they will have to defend their report presenting the exercises carried out during the course; this discussion is aimed at verifying in-depth the theoretical-practical level of the candidate's preparation on the different topics addressed during the exercises that were proposed during the course.

Candidates who demonstrate knowledge and mastery of the fundamental concepts illustrated in the teaching will pass the exam, and a higher score will be given to those who demonstrate a thorough knowledge of all the contents provided in class, both from a theoretical and practical viewpoint, and who will be able to illustrate these contents accurately and with correct technical language.

(registration to the test at https://almaesami.unibo.it)

Teaching tools

The theory illustrated during classes is supported by practical activities (i.e. computer programming and use of specific software) to be carried out under the supervision of Professor and completed independently. All applications will use cross-platform Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS), that can be installed on all major operating systems.

Handouts on the topics covered in the course, exercises and their draft solutions in R scripts (The R Project for Statistical Computing) are accessible during classes for registered students in the repository  Virtuale - AlmaDL University of Bologna.

Office hours

See the website of Attilio Castellarin

See the website of Alessio Domeneghetti


Clean water and sanitation Sustainable cities Climate Action

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.