Hydrology and water resources

Hydrology is the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water throughout earth, and thus addresses both the hydrologic cycle and water resources. Measurement is fundamental for assessing water resources . Research in this field provides a better understanding of the processes involved in the hydrologic cycle, and insight for environmental engineering, policy and planning. Particularly noteworthy for the department are our research achievements in numerical and physical models for water and sediment flow in rivers and reservoirs.

Research topics in hydrology

  • Hydrology in cold climate
  • Rainfall-runoff modelling
  • Hydrology for hydropower operation
  • Floods
  • Environmental impacts of river regulations
  • Climate Change impacts on water resources and hydropower

Clean water and sustainable infrastructure

By 2025 one third of humanity – almost three billion people – will face severe water scarcity. This has been described as the “single greatest threat to health, the environment and global food security”. Water is fundamental for life, is by far the most important food item, and is a commodity that modern societies rely on in many aspects including potable water, agricultural water, industrial water and recreational water. Water is essential and preservation of its safety in quantity and in quality is critical to the sustainable development of any society.

In 2002, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights affirmed that “sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses” is a fundamental human right of all people and a prerequisite to the realization of all other human rights.

Water resources in developing countries

The research group is significantly active in developing countries, both in terms of research and training. The main focus is on hydropower development and water resources management often in combination. In East Africa we are working in several countries, while focusing on Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda. Here as in most developing countries, good water management means finding the optimal use for limited water resources, sharing water between irrigation, hydropower, and water supply.

Climate change and water

The predicted changes in climate are expected to profoundly affect water and water infrastructure. We are currently studying the effect of climate change on river morphology, hydropower resources, floods, and dam safety. We conduct research in cold climates and the Arctic region, given that the climatic change is predicted to be greatest in these regions.

Urban hydrology and storm water management

With the increasing trend towards urbanization, management of surface water runoff in urban areas is an important challenge. The research group has focused on challenges related to urban hydrology in cold climate regions. A major achievement is the establishment of the Risvollan Urban Hydrological Field Laboratory, Risvollan (20 ha) in Trondheim.

This long-term activity is the basis for the ongoing comprehensive research on urban runoff in cold climate. Research activities are directed towards developing mathematical models and processes to prevent flooding and pollution of the environment.

See also: Sagelva research basin

Hydraulics research group

The hydraulic engineering group

The hydraulic engineering group covers areas within hydropower engineering, hydrology and hydraulics. The research profile of the group includes both basic research particularly in the field of computational fluid dynamics, and applied research and development. In many areas the applied part is of great importance and a close relationship between the research group and consultants and authorities using the results for practical applications exists.