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International German School of Hydrology 2016

Craig Walton completed the International German School of Hydrology (IGSH) in September 2016 in Bochum. The course outline for the 2-week school was provided early and correspondence with the coordinators began months before the course itself.

It entailed a good blend of general hydrogeology, more detailed geochemical courses, practical courses and social activities. This school was by invitation only and it was aimed at geologists, hydro-geologists, water engineers and water industry experts. As a geologist I felt right at home and really enjoyed seeing and thinking in geological terms. I was very impressed at the national diversity of the attendants, with people coming from Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia, Iran, Palestine, Tajikistan, India, France, Germany and Australia, to name most of the nationalities. This diversity only added to the group and the discussions. This course cost 500 EUR for the 2 weeks, not including accommodation, which was covered for me by a UNESCO scholarship.

After the first day of student introductions, we had two days of basics, to groundwater and nutrient actions in groundwater. Following this we moved into more technical hydrogeochemical modelling aspects, uses of isotopes in hydrogeology and trace element geochemistry. I found these topics thoroughly enjoyable because they were challenging and quite in-depth, given the short time slots available. The lecturers took their time to explain to us what was important, and we also had small exercises to complete for each topic to further our understanding. Further lectures were on agriculture-water interaction and soil effects, toxicity from agriculture, heterogenity in hydrogeology, water management, agriculture under climate change and many case studies.

This was a very chemistry intensive school (which I liked) and I found all of the topics very relevant. Unfortunately, some of the case studies seemed to miss the mark of the school and just talked off on their own topics. Three group research topics with a final presentation were compulsory to complete and a multiple choice exam was optional if the attendee required a grade.

The summer school schedule was very busy, with most evenings taken up with social activities, which helped the group to really get on well together. Overall, I would rate the IGSH school very highly, 5/5 stars, due to the interesting, challenging and pertinent coursework, blended with a good range of topical and social activities. The course was well planned, attendees chosen with skills relevant to the topic and with an interesting breadth of topics and presenters. The 2017 IGSH is focusing on the water-energy nexus and also seems to be very interesting.

Author: Craig Walton

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