Tracks are recommended, coherent combinations of courses from the programme. They are meant to help students designing their own curriculum and they facilitate specialisation within the programme. On this page you will find information about the four tracks offered within the Earth Surface and Water programme.
Processes that control the functioning of natural environments at the Earth's surface
Environmental geochemistry focusses on the processes that control the functioning of natural environments on the Earth’s surface. By choosing this track, you will learn how these environments are linked by the hydrological cycle and how their chemistry is strongly influenced by biological activity. These environments are increasingly disturbed by human activity on local, regional, and global scales. This track will provide you with an advanced understanding of how biology, geochemistry, and hydrodynamics interact in these systems. This will help you to predict the consequences of human activity on Earth’s surface environments.
Movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth
In the Hydrology track, you will study the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth, including the hydrological cycle and its impact on water resources. Hydrology focusses on the flow of water, nutrients, and energy between the Earth’s surface and subsoil and between its surface and atmosphere. You will learn to quantify how rainfall is portioned into infiltration, evaporation, and runoff. You will also explore how nutrients in the soil and the Earth’s surface are distributed across the landscape through surface runoff and groundwater flow, and you will examine quantitative descriptions of the spread of pollutants in soil and groundwater. Through the course content, you will gain a detailed understanding of the causes of floods and droughts as well as the deterioration of surface water and groundwater quality.
Natural and human-induces processes, patterns, and products in the world's coasts and rivers
This track allows you to investigate the natural and human-induced processes, patterns, and products in the world’s wave-, river-, and tide-dominated coasts and in alluvial rivers (including coast-river interaction). It provides you with a scientific understanding on how coasts and rivers are formed by the dynamic interaction of water motion (waves, tides, and currents), sediment transport, and morphological patterns and how they respond to global change. Field research, laboratory experiments, shore-based remote sensing, and process-based modelling are the tools that help in quantitative predictions and critical assessments of the impact of large-scale human activities along coasts and rivers. Your focus can be on coasts, rivers, or both
Land-degradation processes and natural hazards in and on the Earth's surface
In this track, you will study land-degradation processes and natural hazards in and on the Earth’s surface, with a strong focus on soil erosion, mass movement, land-use changes, land-cover deterioration, and flooding. This focus explicitly addresses the interaction between the natural environment and human activities such as deforestation, energy production, and irrigation. You will use field research, remote sensing, and process-based modelling as integrated tools to quantify land degradation and forecast natural hazards in real time.