28007 - Hydrology and Hydraulic Risk

Course Unit Page


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

Sustainable cities Climate Action

Academic Year 2018/2019

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).


  • 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.

Assessment methods

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 (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 Insegnamenti On Line  - AlmaDL University of Bologna.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Attilio Castellarin

See the website of Alessio Domeneghetti