Principles of Hydrological Modelling

Offered annually. We are excited to announce that this year’s course will be offered in Montreal (in French) in the fall of 2023.

Important information:

  • Date: November 6-10, 2023
  • Location: École de technologie supérieure, Montreal
  • The course will be given in French.

Course Description

The Canadian Society of Hydrological Sciences (CSHS) invites you to a course on the principles of hydrological modeling. This course will cover watershed modeling in support of water resource management and research. The complete cycle of model application is considered and an introduction to their use for forecasting is provided. The main themes of the course are:

  • Preprocessing, understanding, visualization and generation of input forcing data.
  • Spatial and temporal discretization of the watershed.
  • Hydrological processes simulation algorithms.
  • Estimation, calibration, and validation of hydrological model parameters.
  • Data assimilation and operational hydrological forecasting.
  • Evaluation of the impacts of climate change.
  • Interpretation of model results in the context of often significant uncertainty of the process.

The course will include practical applications of models in Quebec and Canadian contexts.

Objectives of the course

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the internal workings of lumped and semi-distributed hydrological models (principles of mass and energy balance, means of representing storage-flow relations, algorithmic descriptions of critical hydrological processes).
  • Choose modeling approaches appropriate to the region studied, to support specific objectives such as water resource management decisions or hypothesis testing.
  • Be able to intelligently apply course concepts to inform, use, and interpret watershed hydrological models.
  • Be able to apply a number of standard and advanced software tools to manipulate and analyze hydrological data, calibrate and validate models, and evaluate their uncertainty.
  • Have a better appreciation of the difficulties inherent in predicting hydrological phenomena and the specific challenges of Canadian hydrometeorological conditions, their hydrological processes, and the availability of data to describe them.

Participants will be exposed to several useful software tools for hydrological modeling and data analysis, including QGIS and the PAVICS-Hydrp (GR4JCN) modeling platform allowing participants to see the impact of modeling choices on representing a process and providing information to decision-makers in an operational context.


This course is intended for participants with degrees in hydrology, geomatics, engineering and water resources, as well as engineers and hydrologists at all career stages.  This course is for those wishing to improve their ability to implement hydrological models and be able to critically evaluate their results.  The quantitative nature of this course requires a base training in hydrology and a good knowledge of computer science.

All participants will receive a certificate from the CSHS to recognize their participation in this course.


This course is open to everyone. Space is limited and will be treated on a first come, first served basis. Please click the link below to register.


  • Student: $600
  • Professional or Young Professional with a CSHS membership: $1200
  • Young Professional (non-member): $1265
  • Professionals (non-member): $1330

A student is someone enrolled full time in an academic institution. A young professional is someone who has been a full time student within the last 3 years. Registration includes a 1-year CSHS & CWRA membership (if not already members).

Tentative Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8h30 Introduction to the course Description and modelling of hydrological processes  Calibration of GR4JCN parameters and manual testing Practice: Semi-distributed modelling Climate change: theory and practice
10h00 Break Break Break Break Break
10h20 Challenges of hydrological modelling and types of models Introduction to GR4JCN Sensitivity analysis Practice (continued): Semi-distributed modelling Completion of practices and conclusion
12h00 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
13h00 Typical inputs: Hydro-meteorological and physiographic data Practice: GR4JCN Model and process spatiotemporal resolution Management and human factors Exam
14h30 Break Break Break Break
14h50 Practice: QGIS Calibration, validation and performance measures Introduction to semi-distributed modelling in GR4JCN Hydrological forecasting and data assimilation Exam



Participants are expected to find their own accommodation. Many hotels are within walking distance of ETS.


A coffee break and pastries will be served during the first break and another coffee break will be provided in the afternoon. All lunches will be provided for the duration of the event.


Participants can either walk to ETS from the nearby hotels or from the nearest metro station (Bonaventure station on the orange line). Alternatively, they can drive and park at ETS directly.

What to bring

Bring regular personal items as for a workshop. The computers at ETS will have the required software pre-installed so bringing your own computer is not required.