Monday, February 13, 2017


Times ago we had the Gruppo Italiano delle Catastrofi Idrogeologiche (GNDC, Italian Group of Hydrological and Geological Hazards). But as the site testifies it languished. When Civil Protection beaome more dominant, not maybe the knowledge, but certainly the funding went in other directions (or was it just the natural fate of all things ?), and the all the initiatives stopped. The discussion never slept, and, BTW the Italian Hydrology is much stronger now than used to be.
So it is now the time for a new scientific initiative, with renovate objectives, to fill the gap between research and practice in defending our beautiful country from flooding. This is Gruppo Alluvioni. If they're roses they'll bloom (Time will tell).

Monday, February 6, 2017

Hydrology 2017

This year I decided to introduce strong news in my Hydrology course.  Not only a change of topics, but also a change of perspective. I increased widely the hours in the lab (up to 60%) of the class, and I arranged the lectures in a way that they could be followed by a three hour laboratory. Almost no lecture will be without numerical experiments. Another innovation is the use of Python instead of R.
I made this because of the large endorsement Python had among hydrologist and because:

  •  its object oriented structure is much more firm than the R one. 
  •  Besides, Python seems to be easy to learn by engineering students. 
  • Some of my colleagues seem to agree to converge toward the use of Python in their classes
R remains the first choice to do statistics. However, we have limited time. The class is 60 hours, and the material to convey a lot.
Here it is the foreseen schedule of the class:
Corso di Idrologia 2017

Legend: T - Theoretical lecture  - L - Laboratory class (this can include theoretical parts, but mostly students will exercise with tools)
  1. T - Introduction to the class
  2. T - A terrain analysis  primer. 
  3. L - Introduction to QGIS. Introduction to the JGrasstools in OMS.
  4. T - A little of Statistics and Probability. 
  5. L -  Delineation of catchments' characteristics with JGrasstools and QGIS.
  6. T - Precipitations. Mechanisms  of formation of precipitation. Ground based statistics. Extreme precipitations. 
  7. L - Intro to Python - Loading/reading files. Time series and their visualisation.
  8. T - Extreme precipitation statistics (parameters' estimation)
  9. L - Estimation of extreme distributions parameters. 
  10. T -  Radiation
  11. L - Estimation of shortwave and longwave radiation in a catchment. 
  12. T - Spatial interpolation - Some concepts about the spatial representation of hydrological quantities. Inverse distance weighting. Ordinary Kriging. Detrended Kriging. 
  13. L - Practical spatial interpolation of rainfall and temperature.  
  14. T - Water in soils. - Darcy-Buckhingham law- Soil water retention curves and hydraulic conductivity. 
  15. L - Numerical experiments on soil water retention curves and hydraulic conductivity.
  16. T -  Richards equation and its extensions.
  17. L - Simulation of infiltration with the Richards equation (1d)
  18. T - Water movements in a hillslope and runoff generation. 
  19. L - Runoff estimation at hillslope scale.
  20. T - Elements of theory of evaporation from water and soils - Dalton. Penman-Monteith. Priestley-Taylor
  21. L - Estimation of potential evapotranspiration with Penman-Monteith and Prietley-Taylor.
  22. T - Vegetation role in the hydrological cycle and transpiration.
  23. L - Estimation of transpiration at catchment scale.
  24. T -  Snow. Snow water and energy budgets. 
  25. L - Degree-Day/Regina Hock's models of snow budget
  26. T - On the impact of climate change on the hydrological cycle

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Water supply systems and Stormwater management infrastructures 2017

Work in progress !!! Starts 02/27

This year I decide to renovate the teaching of my class of "Hydraulic Constructions".  Usually, under this name, one thinks to dams, levees, or other infrastructures. In fact, what I will  teach is how to design a water supply system for a city or for a city district, and how to design the infrastructures for storm water management.

This the foreseen schedule of the course. L Means a laboratory class, where the students are asked to calculate, think or project something. Actually it will be that I will do stuff for them, introducing some tools and asking them to repeat and complete the task on their dataset. Tentatively, it will be a "learning by doing approach" which I used also the last years but to a minor extent. 

I have 60 hours in total over thirteen weeks. So the schedule could be the following one

Storm waters
  1. T - Introductory Class
  2. T - Statistical properties of ground precipitations. Mechanisms  of formation of precipitation. Ground based statistics. Extreme precipitations.  
  3. L - Explorative data analysis. Investigating data with Python (or R)
  4. T - Extreme precipitations. Around the concept of return period. Extreme distributions. 
  5. L - Estimation of Extreme distributions with Python (or R)
  6. T - Element for the design of storm water management infrastructures.  Two urban cases. 
  7. L - Short introduction to GIS for representing urban infrastructures. 
  8. T - Urban flood wave: a primer. 
  9. L - Introduction to EPA SWMM
  10. T - Designing a sewer system with a small synthesis of  pipes hydraulics. 
  11. L - Designing some part of a sewer network with SWMM and Python. 
  12. T - Pumping stormwaters.
  13. L - Discussion and analysis of students projects 

Clean water supply - Aqueducts
  1. T - Aqueducts in 2020
  2. L - Introduction to EPANET and related GIS
  3. T - Introduction to intakes  for water supply
  4. L - Some hydraulic infrastructure for aqueducts
  5. T - External aqueducts
  6. L - Water buildings.  EPANET
  7. T - Aqueducts' distribution networks - Theory and numerics
  8. L - Design and verification of distribution networks with EPANET - I 
  9. T - Houses' infrastructures
  10. L - Design and verification of distribution networks with EPANET - II


During the class I will introduce sever tools for calculations. 
  • Python - Python is a modern programming languages. It will be used for data treatment, estimation of the idf curves of precipitation, some hydraulic calculation and data visualisation. I will use Python mostly as a scripting language to bind and using existing tools. 
  • SWMM - Is an acronym for Storm Water Management System. Essentially it is a model for the estimation of runoff adjusted to Urban environment. I do not endorse very much its hydrology. However, it is the most used tools by colleagues who cares about storm water management, and I adopt it. It is not a tool for designing storm water networks, and therefore, some more work should be done with Python to fill the gaps.
  • EPANET Is the tool developed by EPA to estimate water distribution networks. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

A few steps into Git, Gradle and Travis use

To improve the way we interact and maintain our codes, we started to use more and more some of the many tools that the programmers' market offers.
So, Marialaura Bancheri provided us a small lecture with exercises in order all the group  of students (and I) are up-to-date.  I hope, this will be useful also for others.  To access them, you can click on the Figure above. The tools (in Github)  integrate well also with Zenodo that can provide a DOI to any tagged software release. 
Previous material on GIT (using Egit) can be found here
Life is better using these tools. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Some suggestions for writing a good resume (or a CV)

I was asked to teach something to our students about how writing a CV (or, better, a resumè).  So I prepared this talk you find below, on clicking on the figure. It is in Italian, but my sources are mostly in English, so, below, please find them, which cover almost all I said.

The big source is
However, I found fun to read also 
and intersting:
They give you the right guidance to understand and interpret what you find around in Internet. To the contents of those writings, I added a comment of Leonardo da Vinci's resumè which I commented a couple of days ago.
For Academic resumè and CVs, I also added some examples, including mine:
So, I believe you have enough material to start with.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Modelling the water budget of the Upper Blue Nile basin using the JGrass-NewAge model system and satellite data

This paper must be read after its companion on rainfall published in Atmospheric Research. There we were concerned with rainfall estimates over the large areas of Upper Blue Nile (UBN). Here we move on to estimate all the other components of the water budget. A similar goal was searched at small scales and with different tools, in this other paper about Posina catchment. So the paper can be considered sort of complimentary and covering a range of possibilities allowed by the JGrass-NewAGE system.

The paper abstracts reads: 
"The Upper Blue Nile basin is one of the most data-scarce regions in developing countries, hence, the hydrological information required for informed decision making in water resources management is limited. The hydrological complexity of the basin, tied with the lack of hydrometerological data, means that most hydrological studies in the region are either restricted to small subbasins where there are relatively better hydrometeorological data available, or at the whole basin scale but at very coarse time scales and spatial resolutions. In this study we develop a methodology that can improve the state-of-art by using the available, but sparse, hydrometerological data and satellite products to obtain the estimates of all the components of the hydrological cycle (precipitation, evapotranspiration, discharge, and storage). To this scope, we use the JGrass-NewAge system and various remote sensing products. The satellite products SM2R-CCI is used for obtaining the rainfall inputs; SAF EUMETSAT for cloud cover fraction for proper net radiation estimation; GLEAM for comparison with estimated ET; and GRACE gravimetry data for comparison of the total water storage amounts available. Results are obtained at daily time-steps for the period 1994-2009 (16 years), and they can be used as a reference for any water resource development activities in the region. The overall long term mean budget analysis shows that precipitation of the basin is 1360 ±230 mm per year. Evapotranspiration covers 56% of the yearly budget, runoff is 33%. Storage varies from minus 10% to plus 17% of the budget. "
The manuscript was submitted to HESS and went trough  a first round of revision (see the Discussion page). A revised manuscript was submitted. Please find below (on Zenodo):
Our feeling is that now the paper is a nice reading and we hope it will be accepted soon.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Leonardo Da Vinci Resumè

Talking about CVs, it could be interesting to analyse the one that Leonardo da Vinci sent to Ludovico il Moro in 1482 to be hired. The original can be found here with the modern Italian counterpart. It was found as part of the Codex Atlanticus, that is at Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. Here below you will find its CV in English, as from Gizmodo an OpenCulture.

“Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.

1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.

2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.

3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.

4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.

5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.

6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.

7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.

8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.

9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.

10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.

11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.

12. Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency – to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc.”

One observation is that even a Genius has to sell himself. The second is, if we can learn from him. StudiodaGiacomo is helping me to single out some characteristics which I just translate:

  • Simplicity and clearness in highlighting his abilities (surprisingly not the achievements). 
  • It does not use too long statements. He uses a list in ten points, which makes the reading and the interpretation clear.
  • He uses (but this can be appreciated just in the original text) a plane language, but which one understand comes from an expert (“I am able to do ..”)
  • He does not talk about his achievements (he was already known for them) but he just enumerated topics he knew were interesting for Ludovico il Moro. Besides, he offers to show to Ludovico that he can really do what he claims. He talks about his artistic achievements just at the end. In this way, however, he succeeded in emphasizing them even more. 

No else to add. Who wants to know the rest of the story, can be have it from here and here