Geostatistics for Water Resources and Environmental Scientists

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General information

A 5-day course on geostatistics, topics include modelling spatiotemporal phenomena and simulation techniques combined with estimations of uncertainty.

Spatial statistics is used in mapping of spatial observations like from monitoring stations for hydrological or water resources data, assessing spatial data quality, relating the accuracy of spatial data to their intended use, sampling design optimization, modelling dependency structures, and drawing valid inference from a limited set of spatial data in agriculture, hydrology, hydrogeology, soil science, ecology etc.

The first part of the course starts with statistical and geostatistical inference of data with known locations presenting several interpolation methods. Then the theory of spatial variability is explained presenting the structure of spatial variability-dependence with covariance functions and variograms. We will present data normalization techniques and trend analysis for appropriate geostatistical applications. Comparison of geostatistical methodologies is applied, optimal sampling is discussed and attention is further given to multivariate geostatistics.

The second part of the course includes modelling spatiotemporal phenomena which is a key issue in today's research. However, the extension from pure spatial to a spatiotemporal kriging approach is not trivial. Spatiotemporal dependence covariance models (separable, non-separable) will be presented and explored on real datasets. The practical part deals with the exploration of different spatiotemporal variogram models and space-time kriging approaches applied to an own data set or a provided example.

Finally the third part of the course presents simulation techniques combined with estimations of uncertainty. For all the parts of the course mini-project and workshops will be offered in which the students work with actual data.

PowerPoint presentations and Matlab scripts toolbox prepared by the instructors.

Papers: Published papers in international journals by the instructors
Book: A Practical Guide to Geostatistical Mapping of Environmental Variables, European Commission, Joint Research Centre Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra, Italy, available free under the GNU general public license

Applications data:

  • Daily hydraulic head in sixty-four (64) wells from Isar River basin in Bavaria, from 1/11/2008 to 31/10/2012
  • Hydraulic head in forty (40) wells for the period 2010-2012 from the north-east part of the Netherlands, minimum, maximum and mean values for risk assessment purposes
  • Biannual hydraulic head data from 11 wells at Mires aquifer basin at Crete, Greece from 1981 to 2010
  • Daily, monthly and annual rainfall data from 62 stations distributed at the island of Crete, Greece from 1975 to 2013
  • Monthly and annual rainfall data from 80 stations at northern Spain for the last 20 years
  • Monthly and annual rainfall data from 150 stations distributed along South Africa during the last 15 years
  • Soil quality data from 55 monitoring locations at Koiliaris CZO in Crete, Greece

Additional software: Octave

Contact Person: Claudia Schutter-Brakel (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0532 - Marine Geology", "0542 - Statistics


Venue: UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education
Delft, Netherlands





Hydrologists, geoscientists, ecologists, MSc/PhD students with an interest in spatiotemporal data analysis.

Grant Opportunities:

Discounts on the tuition fee of online and short courses apply to the following:

  • 30% for UNESCO-IHE alumni
  • 10% for UN family staff members
  • 10% for groups of 5 or more (provided that the course starts at the same time and a group application has been sent)

NFP, MSP and SIDS Fellowships

Most of our short courses are eligible for NFPMSP and SIDS Fellowships. Candidates from eligible countries are always encouraged to apply for one. 

You will need to have academic admission at UNESCO-IHE before you apply for an fellowship. Please be aware that the UNESCO-IHE application deadline and the fellowship application deadlines are different.

The UNESCO-IHE deadline is mentioned on each individual Short Course webpage, the fellowship deadlines are listed here:

You may register by filling out the online application form available at the webpage of the Short Course of your preference. Within 15 working days you will be notified about the outcome of your application. You will receive more details about how to apply for the fellowship when you are academically admitted. In case you would like to be nominated for a NFP/MSP fellowship, please note that you can apply for only one course per deadline.

For fellowships, other than NFP, MSP or SIDS, use Nuffic's grantfinder.

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