A coupled e-textbook and modular watershed model for hydrology education

2015 Virtual Workshop Cyberseminar Series

Steven Margulis / University of California Los Angeles
Laurie Huning / University of California Los Angeles

Talk Description

Traditional introductory hydrology courses emphasize process-based hydrology (i.e. precipitation, evaporation, runoff, etc.), which is ultimately unified through watershed modeling near the end of the term. While physically-based and spatially-distributed hydrologic models are arguably valuable learning tools, they are often underutilized in the undergraduate curriculum because of their associated steep learning curves and high computation demands. To overcome these common barriers, we developed a coupled open-access introductory hydrology e-textbook and Modular Distributed Watershed Educational Toolbox (MOD-WET). While the e-textbook and MOD-WET can be used independently, their integration provides a consistent and coherent approach to teaching and learning hydrologic concepts such as precipitation, snow, radiation, evaporation, infiltration, unsaturated flow, groundwater flow, runoff, and watershed modeling. MOD-WET is a compilation of highly modular functions (coded in MATLABTM) that are designed for process-based applications and unified in a physically-based and spatially-distributed watershed model. Since the same equations taught in the classroom and used in process-based exercises are integrated into the hydrologic model, the transition to real-world watershed modeling and analysis is eased and the underlying model physics is elucidated. We present an overview of the e-textbook chapters containing multi-media features that promote student-centered learning as well as learning objectives, examples, relevant toolbox functions and applications, and sample conceptual/applied problems. We demonstrate the capabilities of the modular toolbox and integrated watershed model with both synthetic and real case study applications to basins in Sierra Nevada, California. Student feedback indicates that hands-on learning with MOD-WET enhances their qualitative and quantitative comprehension of hydrological processes at the basin-scale, understanding of the interconnectivity of the hydrologic cycle, and ability to conduct watershed modeling and address real-world problems.

CUAHSI's 2015 Virtual Workshop on Data-Driven Hydrology Education!

The objective of this workshop is to present recent and ongoing developments in the area of data and modeling-driven active learning tools/techniques in hydrology classrooms. The target audience for this workshop is hydrology instructors who are interested in augmenting their teaching with active learning tools that exploit both computational tools and public domain datasets. This virtual workshop consists of three once-a-week webinars.  Each talk in this virtual workshop will focus on demonstrating existing tools or systems that use observed data and computational tools for teaching hydrology.