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Distance Learning Course in Hydrology II: Selected Topics in Hydrological Forecasting

This course, organized jointly with the World Meteorological Organization, the COMET Program and NWS/NOAA ran from 24 January 2011 to 18 February 2011. Intended for professionals working in hydrological forecasting in Eastern Europe, the course was designed to meet the needs of environmental forecasters who can benefit from training in operational hydrological forecasting topics that goes beyond introductory level hydrology. Although this is not a comprehensive look at all topics in hydrologic science, this course offered a few selected topics that can help the forecaster begin the process of gaining a more thorough understanding of hydrologic sciences.

Participants should have a basic educational background in hydrology and meteorology.
The course has been centered on seven online distance-learning modules developed with funding from the U.S. NOAA National Weather Service. These modules have been used independently by each student over the course of the four weeks. The course also included two live events to be attended via Web conferencing tools at the start and close of the course, as well as ongoing opportunities for online discussions with course instructors and fellow students. The live sessions and online communications allowed students to ask questions, share their regional issues and experiences, and learn more deeply by discussing the course content with their peers and the instructors.

In addition to mastering the course content and completing online quizzes for each module, each student has been required to complete a short final written assignment.

Successfully completing the final assignment and the online quizzes for each module earned students a Certificate of Completion.

Students who complete all of the online quizzes but who do not complete the final assignment received a Certificate of Participation.

Modules covered in the course include:


Week 1

  • Precipitation Estimates, Part 1: Measurement
  • Precipitation Estimates, Part 2: Analysis

Week 2

  • Distributed Hydrologic Models for Flow Forecasts, Part 1
  • Distributed Hydrologic Models for Flow Forecasts, Part 2

Week 3

  • Introduction to Verification of Hydrologic Forecasts
  • QPF Verification: Challenges and Tools

Week 4

  • An Introduction to Ensemble Streamflow Prediction
  • Final Project

The course has been delivered by distance learning, which required the participants to have access to a computer and a reasonable Internet connection (e.g. they should be able to download large files, of at least 40 Mb). It was estimated that the dedication needed to successfully complete the course was of 6 to 8 hours/week, and supervisors of participants have been encouraged to release them of work responsibilities during those hours.

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Gain knowledge needed to develop forecasting skills in intermediate and advanced hydrologic science topics
  • Describe advantages and limitations of different forms of precipitation measurement
  • Understand the potential advantages of multiple sensor products for observed precipitation analysis
  • Explain the relationship between lumped hydrologic modeling and distributed hydrologic modeling
  • Describe situations where distributed hydrologic modeling may be beneficial
  • Explain some of the challenges and limitations of distributed hydrologic modeling
  • List three main reasons to do forecast verification
  • Explain why more than one measure of verification may be most appropriate to understand forecast performance
  • Describe why ensemble forecasts may offer information that is not available with deterministic forecasts
  • Explain how probabilistic forecasts are used and verified
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