102-0287-00L  River Basin Erosion

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersP. Molnar
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


102-0287-00 GRiver Basin Erosion2 hrs
Thu13:45-15:30HIL E 6 »
21.10.09:45-11:30HIL E 6 »
P. Molnar

Catalogue data

AbstractThe course presents a view of the catchment processes of sediment production and transport that shape the landscape. Focus is on sediment fluxes from sources on hillslopes to the river network. Students learn about how a fluvial system functions, how to identify sediment sources and sinks, how to make predictions with numerical models, develop sediment budgets, and quantify geomorphic change.
ObjectiveThe course has two fundamental aims: (1) The first aim is to provide environmental engineers with the physical process basis needed to understand fluvial system change, using the right language and terminology to describe landforms. We will cover the main geomorphic concepts of landscape change, e.g. thresholds, equilibrium, criticality, to describe change. Students will learn about the importance of the concepts of connectivity and timescales of change. (2) The second aim is to provide quantitative skills in making simple and more complex predictions of change and the data and models required. We will learn about typical landscape evolution models, and about hillslope erosion model concepts like RUSLE. We will learn how to identify sediment sources and sinks, and develop simple sediment budgets with the right data needed for this purpose. Finally we will learn about methods to describe the topology of river networks as conduits of sediment through the fluvial system.
ContentThe course consists of four sections: (1) Introduction to fluvial forms and processes and geomorphic concepts of landscape change, including climatic and human activities acting on the system. Concepts like thresholds, equilibrium, self-organised criticality, etc. are presented. (2) Landscape evolution modelling as a tool for describing the shape of the land surface. Soil formation and sediment production at long timescales. (3) The processes of sediment production, upland sheet-rill-gully erosion, basin sediment yield, rainfall-triggered landsliding, sediment budgets, and the modelling of the individual processes involved. Here we combine model concepts with field observations and look at many examples. (4) Processes in the river, floodplain and riparian zone, including river network topology, channel geometry, aquatic habitat, role of riparian vegetation, including basics of fluvial system management. The main focus of the course is on the hydrology-sediment connections at the field and catchment scale.
Lecture notesThere is no script.
LiteratureThe course materials consist of a series of 13 lecture presentations and notes to each lecture. The lectures were developed from textbooks, professional papers, and ongoing research activities of the instructor. All material is on the course webpage.
Prerequisites / NoticePrerequisites: Basic Hydrology and Watershed Modelling (or contact instructor).

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersP. Molnar
Typesession examination
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionThe performance assessment is offered every session. Repetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Mode of examinationoral 30 minutes
Additional information on mode of examination70% of the final grade comes from the final oral session examination, 30% of the grade comes from compulsory continuous performance assessment task (i.e. exercises and essays worked on during the course). The compulsory continuous performance assessment task needs not be passed on its own; it is awarded a grade which counts proportionally towards the total course unit grade.

The student gets 2 questions randomly drawn from a list to prepare in 10 mins and then presents them in 20 min to instructor.
This information can be updated until the beginning of the semester; information on the examination timetable is binding.

Learning materials

Main linkRiver Basin Erosion Web
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

MAS in Sustainable Water ResourcesFoundation CoursesWInformation
Environmental Engineering MasterRiver SystemsOInformation
Environmental Engineering MasterLandscapeWInformation
Environmental Engineering MasterEM: LandscapeWInformation
Environmental Engineering MasterEM: River SystemsWInformation
Environmental Sciences MasterHydrology and Water CycleWInformation