The spring semester 2021 will certainly take place online until Easter. Exceptions: Courses that can only be carried out with on-site presence. Please note the information provided by the lecturers.

Search result: Catalogue data in Autumn Semester 2016

Environmental Sciences Bachelor Information
Specialization in an Environmental System
Biogeochemistry
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
701-0216-00LBiogeochemical CyclesW3 credits2GB. Wehrli
AbstractBiogeochemical cycles are discussed from global or regional perspectives, important methods to determine reaction rates and pathways are introduced and typical reaction mechansims are discussed at a molecular level.
ObjectiveThe students will be able to
* explain how molecular processes govern global biogeochemical cycles;
* apply simple numerical models of biogeochemical processes (equilibrium-, mass-balance, transport-reaction models);
* interpret concentration changes in time and space and deduce rates of biogeochemical processes.
ContentBiogeochemical cycles in aquatic systems will be discussed from three perspectives: 1) Case studies with a gloabal or regional point of view will document the relevant background information on rates, time-scales and reservoirs of selected element cycles such as C, N, P, S, Fe, Mn Cd, Cu, Mo and As. 2) From a practical perspective we will compare the potential and limits of different methods to quantify biogeochemical processes in aquatic systems. 3) On a molecular level we will discuss mechanisms and pathways of relevant reactions.
Lecture notesLecture notes and assignments will be available in German
LiteratureSimilar coverage of some topics: Steven R. Emerson, John I. Hedges: Chemical Oceanography and the Marine Carbon Cycle. Cambridge University Press 2008.
Prerequisites / NoticeBasic knowledge in chemistry and systems analysis
701-0419-01LSeminar for Bachelor Students: BiogeochemistryO2 credits2SG. Furrer, R. Kretzschmar, B. Wehrli
AbstractThe seminar provides an introduction to the literature in biogeochemistry of aquatic and terrestrial systems. The students present their summary and review of recent or classical papers. Therefore they get familiar with online-access tools and improve their communication and presentation skills.
ObjectiveGetting to know relevant journals in the field of biogeochemistry. Reading, assessing and discussing scientific publications. Improving of presentation skills. Exercising and Improving of moderation skills.
ContentPart 1: Literature search. Presentation and moderation techniques.
Part 2: Common literature study; online-exchange of information. Presentation and discussion moderated by the students.
Lecture notesSelected handouts will be distributed in class.
https://moodle-app2.let.ethz.ch/auth/shibboleth/login.php
Prerequisites / NoticeDeadline for enrollment is the FIRST day of the semester. Later enrollment can only be accepted in exceptional cases and under certain conditions (e.g., restricted choice of topics and dates).
701-0423-00LChemistry of Aquatic SystemsW3 credits2GL. Winkel
AbstractThis course gives an introduction to chemical processes in aquatic systems and shows applications to various systems. The following topics are treated: acid-base reactions and carbonate system, solubility of solids and weathering, redox reactions, complexation of metals, reactions at the solid/water interface, applications to lakes, rivers and groundwater.
ObjectiveUnderstanding of chemical processes in aquatic systems. Quantitative application of chemical equilibria to processes in natural waters. Evaluation of analytical data from aquatic systems.
ContentIntroduction to the chemistry of aquatic systems. Regulation of the composition of natural waters by chemical, geochemical and biological processes. Quantitative application of chemical equilibria to processes in natural waters. The following topics are treated: acid-base reactions, carbonate system; solubility of solid phases and weathering; complexation of metals and metal cycling in natural waters; redox reactions; reactions at the interface solid phase-water; applications to lakes, rivers, groundwater.
Lecture notesScript is distributed.
LiteratureSigg, L., Stumm, W., Aquatische Chemie, 5. Aufl., vdf/UTB, Zürich, 2011.
701-0533-00LSoil ChemistryW3 credits2GR. Kretzschmar, D. I. Christl
AbstractThis course discusses chemical and biogeochemical processes in soils and their influence on the behavior and cycling of nutrients and pollutants in terrestrial systems. Approaches for quantitative modeling of the processes are introduced.
ObjectiveUnderstanding of important chemical soil properties and processes and their influence on the behavior (e.g., speciation, bioavailability, mobility) of nutrients and pollutants.
ContentImportant topics include the structure and properties of clays and oxides, the chemistry of the soil solution, gas equilibria, dissolution and precipitation of mineral phases, cation exchange, surface complexation, chemistry of soil organic matter, redox reactions in flooded soils, soil acidification and soil salinization.
Lecture notesHandouts in lectures.
Literature- Selected chapters in: Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment, 2005.
- Chapters 2 and 5 in Scheffer/Schachtschabel - Soil Science, 1st English edition, Springer, 2016.
701-0535-00LEnvironmental Soil Physics/Vadose Zone Hydrology Information W3 credits2G + 2UD. Or
AbstractThe course provides theoretical and practical foundations for understanding and characterizing physical and transport properties of soils/ near-surface earth materials, and quantifying hydrological processes and fluxes of mass and energy at multiple scales. Emphasis is given to land-atmosphere interactions, the role of plants on hydrological cycles, and biophysical processes in soils.
ObjectiveStudents are able to
- characterize quantitative knowledge needed to measure and parameterize structural, flow and transport properties of partially-saturated porous media.
- quantify driving forces and resulting fluxes of water, solute, and heat in soils.
- apply modern measurement methods and analytical tools for hydrological data collection
- conduct and interpret a limited number of experimental studies
- explain links between physical processes in the vadose-zone and major societal and environmental challenges
ContentWeeks 1 to 3: Physical Properties of Soils and Other Porous Media – Units and dimensions, definitions and basic mass-volume relationships between the solid, liquid and gaseous phases; soil texture; particle size distributions; surface area; soil structure. Soil colloids and clay behavior

Soil Water Content and its Measurement - Definitions; measurement methods - gravimetric, neutron scattering, gamma attenuation; and time domain reflectometry; soil water storage and water balance.

Weeks 4 to 5: Soil Water Retention and Potential (Hydrostatics) - The energy state of soil water; total water potential and its components; properties of water (molecular, surface tension, and capillary rise); modern aspects of capillarity in porous media; units and calculations and measurement of equilibrium soil water potential components; soil water characteristic curves definitions and measurements; parametric models; hysteresis. Modern aspects of capillarity

Demo-Lab: Laboratory methods for determination of soil water characteristic curve (SWC), sensor pairing

Weeks 6 to 9: Water Flow in Soil - Hydrodynamics:
Part 1 - Laminar flow in tubes (Poiseuille's Law); Darcy's Law, conditions and states of flow; saturated flow; hydraulic conductivity and its measurement.

Lab #1: Measurement of saturated hydraulic conductivity in uniform and layered soil columns using the constant head method.

Part 2 - Unsaturated steady state flow; unsaturated hydraulic conductivity models and applications; non-steady flow and Richard’s Eq.; approximate solutions to infiltration (Green-Ampt, Philip); field methods for estimating soil hydraulic properties.
Midterm exam

Lab #2: Measurement of vertical infiltration into dry soil column - Green-Ampt, and Philip's approximations; infiltration rates and wetting front propagation.

Part 3 - Use of Hydrus model for simulation of unsaturated flow


Week 10 to 11: Energy Balance and Land Atmosphere Interactions - Radiation and energy balance; evapotranspiration definitions and estimation; transpiration, plant development and transpirtation coefficients – small and large scale influences on hydrological cycle; surface evaporation.

Week 12 to 13: Solute Transport in Soils – Transport mechanisms of solutes in porous media; breakthrough curves; convection-dispersion eq.; solutions for pulse and step solute application; parameter estimation; salt balance.

Lab #3: Miscible displacement and breakthrough curves for a conservative tracer through a column; data analysis and transport parameter estimation.

Additional topics:

Temperature and Heat Flow in Porous Media - Soil thermal properties; steady state heat flow; nonsteady heat flow; estimation of thermal properties; engineering applications.

Biological Processes in the Vaodse Zone – An overview of below-ground biological activity (plant roots, microbial, etc.); interplay between physical and biological processes. Focus on soil-atmosphere gaseous exchange; and challenges for bio- and phytoremediation.
Lecture notesClassnotes on website: Vadose Zone Hydrology, by Or D., J.M. Wraith, and M. Tuller
(available at the beginning of the semester)
http://www.step.ethz.ch/education/active-courses/vadose-zone-hydrology
LiteratureSupplemental textbook (not mandatory) -Environmental Soil Physics, by: D. Hillel
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