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First NOAA/COMET/WMO International Basic Hydrologic Sciences Distance Learning Course

This course was dedicated mainly to those professionals from NMHSs who were nominated but not selected to attend the International Hydrometeorological Analysis and Forecasting Course, held in Boulder, Colorado, in June 2008.

These more than 110 professionals have received during August 2009 a CD of the COMET online hydrology courses. Based on the material contained in the CD, the first NOAA/COMET/WMO International Basic Hydrologic Sciences Distance Learning Course, has been held from 19 October to 1 December 2009.


The International Basic Hydrologic Sciences Distance Learning Course provided a new kind of learning opportunity for international hydrology and meteorology professionals. The course was designed to meet the needs of environmental forecasters who do not have formal training in hydrology, but who work with hydrologic data, particularly in flood forecasting. The course was intended to provide an understanding of the complex interactions between the waters of the land and atmosphere and will prepare the student for further study in this area.


The course has been centered upon nine or more distance learning modules, to be provided on a single CD-ROM, which have been used independently by each student over the course of approximately six weeks. However, the course has also included two live events to be attended via Web technologies at the start and close of the course, as well as weekly online communications with two 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, each student has been required to complete a short assignment, such as creating and sharing a short case study or report on local/regional climatology and hydrologic forecast systems. Successfully completing the course assignment and online quizzes for each module earned students a certificate of completion.

Course objectives

  • Understand the elements of the hydrologic cycle.
  • Explain the rainfall runoff process.
  • Describe the snowmelt runoff process.
  • Recognize effects of river ice on flood occurrences.
  • Describe the process of stream-flow routing.
  • Use a unit hydrograph for forecasting flows.
  • Explain the unique characteristics of flash floods and the use of flash flood guidance.
  • Apply knowledge of hydrologic processes to real-world events.
  • Apply statistical methods to assess flood risk.
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