James W. Kirchner: Catalogue data in Autumn Semester 2017

Name Prof. Dr. James W. Kirchner
FieldEnvironmental Systems
Dep. Umweltsystemwissenschaften
ETH Zürich, CHN F 50.3
Universitätstrasse 16
8092 Zürich
Telephone+41 44 632 80 18
DepartmentEnvironmental Systems Science
RelationshipFull Professor

651-2915-00LSeminar in Hydrology0 credits1SP. Burlando, J. W. Kirchner, S. Löw, D. Or, C. Schär, M. Schirmer, S. I. Seneviratne, M. Stähli, C. H. Stamm, University lecturers
701-1316-00LPhysical Transport Processes in the Natural Environment3 credits2GJ. W. Kirchner
AbstractFluid flows transport all manner of biologically important gases, nutrients, toxins, contaminants, spores and seeds, as well as a wide range of organisms themselves. This course explores the physics of fluids in the natural environment, with emphasis on the transport, dispersion, and mixing of solutes and entrained particles, and their implications for biological and biogeochemical processes.
ObjectiveStudents will learn key concepts of fluid mechanics and how to apply them to environmental problems. Weekly exercises based on real-world data will develop core skills in analysis, interpretation, and problem-solving.
Contentdimensional analysis, similarity, and scaling
solute transport in laminar and turbulent flows
transport and dispersion in porous media
transport of sediment (and adsorbed contaminants) by air and water
anomalous dispersion
Lecture notesThe course is under development. Lecture materials will be distributed as they become available.
701-1644-00LMountain Forest Hydrology5 credits3GJ. W. Kirchner
AbstractThis course presents a process-based view of the hydrology, biogeochemistry, and geomorphology of mountain streams. Students learn how to integrate process knowledge, data, and models to understand how landscapes regulate the fluxes of water, sediment, nutrients, and pollutants in streams, and to anticipate how streams will respond to changes in land use, atmospheric deposition, and climate.
ObjectiveStudents will have a broad understanding of the hydrological, biogeochemical, and geomorphological functioning of mountain catchments. They will practice using data and models to frame and test hypotheses about connections between streams and landscapes.
ContentStreams are integrated monitors of the health and functioning of their surrounding landscapes. Streams integrate the fluxes of water, solutes, and sediment from their contributing catchment area; thus they reflect the spatially integrated hydrological, ecophysiological, biogeochemical, and geomorphological processes in the surrounding landscape. At a practical level, there is a significant public interest in managing forested upland landscapes to provide a reliable supply of high-quality surface water and to minimize the risk of catastrophic flooding and debris flows, but the scientific background for such management advice is still evolving.

Using a combination of lectures, field exercises, and data analysis, we explore the processes controlling the delivery of water, solutes, and sediment to streams, and how those processes are affected by changes in land cover, land use, and climate. We review the connections between process understanding and predictive modeling in these complex environmental systems. How well can we understand the processes controlling watershed-scale phenomena, and what uncertainties are unavoidable? What are the relative advantages of top-down versus bottom-up approaches? How much can "black box" analyses reveal about what is happening inside the black box? Conversely, can small-scale, micro-mechanistic approaches be successfully "scaled up" to predict whole-watershed behavior? Practical problems to be considered include the effects of land use, atmospheric deposition, and climate on streamflow, water quality, and sediment dynamics, illustrated with data from experimental watersheds in North America, Scandinavia, and Europe.
Lecture notesHandouts will be available as they are developed.
LiteratureRecommended and required reading will be specified at the first class session (with possible modifications as the semester proceeds).