Courses and camps

Biowater’s annual camps

BIOWATER’s work is of course going on all year round, but each year we arrange a camp event where we gather to work on our plans, data, and publications. In 2018 we met at Sandbjerg estate near Sønderborg in Denmark, at the premises of the University of Aarhus; and in October 2019 our Finish partners arranged the camp at Rokuanhovi  near Oulu (Uleåborg). In 2020 the camp was supposed to be held at Hurdalssjøen in Norway, but the Corona virus prevented this. Instead we held a virtual camp over three days in May 2020. 


BIOWATER also organises courses for students, usually but not always in connection with the annual camps. So far, the following PhD-courses have been held or are being prepared:

  1. SWAT Model Part I (University of Aarhus, May 2018)
  2. SWAT Model Part II (University of Aarhus, May 2019)
  3. Hydrology, catchment biogeochemistry, processes. Uncertainty in water quality measurements (University of Oulu, October 2019
  4. SWAT Modelling: How to model scenarios. (Was held in November 2020 as a web-based course, since it had to be postponed due to the corona situation)

1. SWAT Model Part I


Participants at BIOWATER’s first SWAT Course in Silkeborg, Denmark

SWAT stands for Soil and Water Assessment Tool. This tool is applied for simulation of catchment processes, in particular related to topics such as land use and climate change assessments. BIOWATER’s first course in this model was held during the last week of May 2018, at the University of Aarhus.

Simulation of catchment hydrology and water quality responses are increasingly used in watershed management and policy making for facing the challenge of future land use change and climate change. In response to a growing demand and new applications, the Aarhus University designed and hosted this basic SWAT course of “Catchment modelling with SWAT”. The course helped PhD students to gain a comprehensive basis for understanding and working with the SWAT.  The students brought their own case studies to the course. The course gave 3 credits (ECTS).

2 SWAT Model Part II

This course, to be held in June 2019, is a follow up of the basic SWAT modelling course and students will acquire a working, state-of-the-art knowledge of the basic concepts and methods used in SWAT and have a working experience with SWAT model from their own catchment study. In this regard the objectives of the course are:

  • To give students a thorough understanding of scenario analysis at catchment scale.
  • To give the students a basic understanding of GCM RCP predictions.
  • To learn students how to download and construct climate change scenarios considering dynamic downscaling of the climate change scenarios (RCPs) that is predicted by the General Circulation Models (GCMs)
  • To learn students how to perform statistical evaluations of their calibration and validation runs with models.
  • Problem solving related to set up, calibration and validation of the catchment model of students own study catchments.

More information can be found here: PhD_course_May_2019_SWAT2_Aarhus.

3. Hydrology, catchment biogeochemistry and processes.


The course was held on the premises of the Bothanical garden, just next door to the University of  Oulu.

This course was held in Oulu in September/October 2019. During two intensive days, the participants of the BIOWATER PhD course at the University of Oulu, Finland, had no less than 12 lectures on the topic of Catchment hydrology, biogeochemistry and processes. The course was fully booked. Lecture topics on the first day ranged from catchment hydrology, soil structure and preferential flow, through phosphorus species in soils and sediments, carbon fluxes in water courses, and ecological quality elements in river basin management plans. Monitoring of water quality and ecology, including the uncertainties inherent in this, was also on the menu. On the second day, we had time for four lectures, covering carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles in terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemistry; sediment and nutrient cycling in catchments and how we best can mitigate and manage; the question on internal phosphorus loadings in streams; and how paleo-limnological studies of sediment cores in lakes can help us understand the history of catchments. The students had several questions to the lecturers, and the lecturers also discussed topics between them, making the learning atmosphere more interesting. 

Included in the course was a trip to a water restoration site in Jääli, just 30 minutes from the Oulu University. Here, local stakeholders had joined forces to implement environmental measures to reduce loadings into lake Jäälinjärvi. Whereas it has been important also here to reduce inputs of nutrients and sediments to the lake, the loadings of iron are of particular concern. The heavy ditching of the forests and peatlands upstream has caused excessive increase of iron concentrations in the tributaries to the lake. The local stakeholders showed us how they had worked to reduce the loadings and improve the environmental status of the lake. 

Group at field trip

Course participants and lecturers during the field trip to Jääli.

4. SWAT Modelling: How to model scenarios.

BIOWATER hosted a virtual  SWAT scenario workshop on 4-6 November 2020,  and the lecturer was the SWAT expert Dr. Eugenio Molina Navarro from the University of Madrid.

The fruitful workshop was a mixture of virtual hands-on exercises and presentations by Eugenio. He taught the participants different methods to implement land use and climate change scenarios into SWAT. The participants of the workshop included Joy Bhattacharjee (FI), Fatemeh Hashemi (DK), Csilla Farkas (NO), Alexander Engebretsen (NO); Attila Nemes (NO); Mette V. Carstensen (DK) and Brian Kronvang (DK).

With this workshop, the modelers of Module 4 are getting ready to implement the different land use scenarios based on the stakeholders’ answers, into their SWAT models set up for national catchments. The workshop was organised by the University of Aarhus, with Mette V. Carstensen and Brian Kronvang as the main organisers.

Participants at course # 4 of BIOWATER, unfortunately held on-line due to the Corona virus. Photo montage: Csilla Farkas, NIBIO.