EARTHSCI 261 : Climate, Hydrology and Biogeography


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Exploration of themes in climatology, hydrology, and biogeography with a focus on the nature and role of key processes at various spatial and temporal scales in the biosphere. The role of climate as a fundamental driver of hydrological and biogeographical processes is an important theme.

Course Overview

An exploration of themes in climatology, (eco)hydrology, and oceanography with a focus on the nature and role of key environmental processes at various spatial and temporal scales. The role of climate as a fundamental driver of hydrological and oceanographic processes is an important theme. Course content will investigate:
• The atmospheric processes responsible for local condensation, precipitation and evaporation.
• Flows of energy in the atmospheric system (including the energy and radiation balances) and their importance for understanding weather and climate.
• Near-surface hydrological processes that transform precipitation and evaporation into hydrological resources and hazards.
• The role of climate and vegetation as drivers of hydrological change and variability.
• Global scale flows of energy and water as mediated by the ocean.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: GEOG 101 Restriction: GEOG 261

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate substantive understanding of how climate, hydrology, vegetation, and oceanography are inter-related at different spatial and temporal scales. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6)
  2. Describe and explain the key atmospheric processes that control important features of our weather and climate. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  3. Describe key issues associated with climate and hydrology monitoring. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Apply selected basic analytical techniques in each sub-discipline. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Explain the essentials of catchment-scale hydrological processes. (Capability 1, 4 and 5)
  6. Understand the processes that determine the flows of energy and water within the oceans and between the oceans and atmosphere. (Capability 1, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 50% Individual Coursework
Test 20% Individual Test
Final Exam 30% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Final Exam


As part of the University-wide Tuākana community, The School of Environment Tuākana Programme aims to provide a welcoming learning environment for, and enhance the success of, all of our Māori and Pacific students. We are led by the principles of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (connection), and hope you find a home here at the School. Students who have identified as Māori and/or Pacific will receive an invitation to our online portal introducing the Programme, the resources we have available, and how you can get involved.
This course is supported by a designated Tuākana tutor with appropriate knowledge of the course and related skills. They will organise group study sessions and facilitate direct assistance regarding material taught in this course. For more information regarding the Programme feel free to email our Programme Coordinator:

Learning Resources

There is no specific text book for this course. Readings are provided weekly via canvas. There is an expectation that at least 2 hours a week are spent reading.

Special Requirements

None required.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 36 hours of lectures, 5 x 2 hour tutorials. The remaining 104 hours should be divided between 24-34 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 40 hours of work on laboratory assignments and 30-40 hrs test/exam preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 11/01/2020 02:59 p.m.