Data Acquisition, Preprocessing and Modelling using SWAT

IHE Delft Modelling

Target Audience

The course is designed for professionals (engineers and scientists) active in the water sector, especially those involved in using simulation models for water management.


The course starts with acquisition and preprocessing of data for SWAT using open source GIS and spatial analysis tools. Next, river basin modelling with SWAT and its calibration will be introduced. With the skills learned in the first week of this course you will be able to find open access GIS data and more efficiently process your data for your models using tools like QGISGDAL and Python. In the second week you will learn the the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), which is an integrated watershed model widely applied across the world to study hydrology, sediment, in-stream water quality, impact of land use, climate change and various water management interventions on water quantity and quality. In this course, participants will learn an overview of the SWAT model, with focus on hydrological process simulation. The calibration, validation and uncertainty analysis will be presented. The data needs, possible sources and required formats will be discussed. Several case studies will be presented during the course to enable the participants to learn from the available experience. In a workshop environment, participants will exercise on how to develop a SWAT model for a specific case study.

Course content

  • Introduction to Open Source software for GIS and hydrological modelling;
  • Spatial Data Infrastructures for Open Access Water Data;
  • Using QGIS to digitize vector layers from a scanned map;
  • Using QGIS for importing tabular data into GIS, data correction and interpolation;
  • Using QGIS for catchment and stream delineation;
  • File conversions using GDAL and Python;
  • An overview of the SWAT model and wide range of applications across the world.
  • Data needs, possible sources and required formats for input into the model
  • Theory and practice on the SWAT calibration and validation
  • Development of a SWAT model for a selected case study basin

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, the participant should be able to:

  • georeference a scanned map
  • digitize vector layers from scanned maps
  • delineate catchments and streams from digital elevation models
  • find and use open data from the internet
  • apply map algebra for spatial planning
  • design maps