78594 - Flood and Drought Risk Management

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Elena Toth
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: ICAR/02
  • Language: English

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students have an understanding of the factors causing and aggravating both river floods and drought, and a knowledge of the options and measures available for reducing and managing such risks. In particular, the course will provide advanced theoretical bases, knowledge of the tools and applied skills for (i) the assessment of flood and drought risk, in terms of hazard and vulnerability and (ii) the appraisal and design of measures for mitigating and managing such risks (such as structures for flood protection/mitigation, flood and drought policies/plans/mapping; forecasting and managing flood and drought emergencies).

Course contents

Requirements/Prior knowledge

Basic knowledge in open-channel hydraulics, hydrology and statistics is needed.

Course Contents/Syllabus

- Climate classification.

- Acquisition and processing of hydro-meteorological data to support flood and drought modelling: rainfall fields estimates, errors in measurements; open databases; data analysis and validation; gap filling. Remote sensing of water-related variables (satellites and radar)

- Drought analysis: introduction to droughts (definitions, characteristics, classifications). Climatological and human-induced causes. Drought impacts: social, environmental, economic aspects.

- Drought monitoring and warning. Computation of drought indices based on meteorological and on hydrological/agricultural variables.

- Prediction of hydrological design variables and Flood Frequency Analysis (FFA).

- Flood hazard and risk assessment: rainfall-runoff modelling, river flow propagation modelling, flood hazard mapping, flood impacts, damage evaluation, vulnerability assessment.

- Structural and non-structural measures for flood defence: structures for flood peak reduction and for hydraulic conveyance increase; floodplain management; individual protection measures, flood forecasting and warning, managing flood emergencies.

od emergencies.


There is not a required textbook for the course. Lecture slides, as well as review articles and research papers will be made available in the collection "Virtuale" (virtuale.unibo.it/) for registered students.

In particular, additional reading material includes:

-WMO (2008): Guide to Hydrological Practices. WMO No. 168. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva.

- WMO(2008): Manual on Low-flow Estimation and Prediction, WMO No, 1029. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva.

- WMO (2011): Manual on flood forecasting and warning, WMO No. 1072. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva.

- “HYDROLOGICAL DROUGHT – Processes and Estimation Methods for Streamflow and Groundwater”
edited by Lena M. Tallaksen and Henny A.J. van Lanen, Published by Elsevier (2004), now freely available at:

-Grimaldi, S., S.C. Kao, A. Castellarin, S.M. Papalexiou, A. Viglione, F. Laio, H. Aksoy, A. Gedikli (2011): Statistical Hydrology. In Treatise on Water Science. (479 – 517). ISBN: 978-0-444-53199-5. OXFORD: Elsevier (UK).

Teaching methods

Lectures (in class and/or online).

Seminars with experts (in class or online) and technical visits (if allowed by health restrictions).

In-class exercises and home assignments, including coding and use of specific software (e.g. macrolanguages, such as Matlab or RStudio).

Assessment methods

Student achievement is assessed through:

- a written test including 2/3 open questions focusing on the topics covered during the lectures (students should attend all lectures or obtain the notes from their colleagues when absent). Students may be asked to solve a short exercise.

- an oral assessment where the student defends and discusses her/his report of the in-class and home assignments (that have to be delivered to the teacher one week prior to the exam).

To pass the exam, the students are required to master the main theoretical principles and methodologies taught during the lectures. The laude is awarded to students who, in addition to be proficient in all the covered topics and to present top-grade assignments, show to have integrated their knowledge with personal in-depth analysis

Teaching tools

Handouts on the topics covered in the course, lecture slides, assignments and exercises are published in the University of Bologna collection "Virtuale" (virtuale.unibo.it/) for registered students.

Office hours

See the website of Elena Toth


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.