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Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology

The Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology (EFMH) program at Stanford University focuses on research and teaching of fundamental processes related to water flows in surface and groundwater systems, air flows in the atmosphere and indoor environments, and hydrology and water resources. Owing to the increasingly interdisciplinary level of research in EFMH, faculty collaborate extensively both in research and teaching with colleagues throughout the university, including with faculty in the Schools of Engineering, Humanities, Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, and Law.

EFMH Research

Research in EFMH addresses a broad range of topics related to air, surface and ground water flows, and hydrology and water resources, including:

  • fluid and sediment transport and mixing processes
  • turbulence and its modeling in stratified environments
  • biogenic mixing
  • flow in urban environments
  • indoor fluid mechanics
  • wind energy engineering
  • flow through vegetation and coral reefs in coastal environments
  • wave-driven flows
  • particle transport in environmental flows
  • transport and mixing processes in groundwater flows
  • enhanced in-situ remediation methods
  • reservoir sedimentation and hydrology and hydrologic ecosystem services
  • surface water-ground water interactions
  • scaling and spatial distribution of recycled water systems

EFMH research employs state-of-the-art field equipment to measure flow and transport both in the field and in the laboratory. A significant amount of effort involves the development of new and improved laboratory and in-situ and remote-sensing field measurement techniques. Laboratory research is conducted in the Bob and Norma Street Environmental Fluid Mechanics Laboratory.

In addition to experimental work, research in EFMH focuses extensively on development of accurate and efficient methods for the simulation of flows in the surface and subsurface and in indoor and urban environments, and in this regard there is extensive collaboration with the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering. EFMH faculty focus on use of computational methods and high-performance computing in the development of three-dimensional models for hydrodynamics and sediment transport in river, estuarine, and lake environments as well as large-scale ocean modeling. In the subsurface, modeling work focuses on uncertainty quantification of groundwater models, large-scale inverse modeling and data assimilation using efficient computational algorithms. In indoor and urban environments, the focus is on coupling of large- and small-scale computational models along with uncertainty quantification.

For details on prospective research possibilities in EFMH, please refer to individual faculty webpages here. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact EFMH faculty prior to applying to our program to assess the potential for pursuing research in a particular area of interest.

EFMH Coursework

Coursework in the EFMH program includes undergraduate, masters, and doctoral-level courses that focus on fundamental aspects of flow and transport, hydrology, and water resources engineering in natural and engineering surface and subsurface water systems. MS and PhD-level coursework focuses on depth and breadth requirements in six areas that include:

  • Fluid Mechanics (e.g. hydrodynamics, physics of wind energy, physical oceanography)
  • Hydrology/Meteorology (e.g. groundwater flow, water resources)
  • Applied Mathematics and Computation (e.g. surface water modeling, linear algebra, numerical methods for partial differential equations)
  • Communication (e.g. public speaking, technical writing)
  • Environmental Engineering and Science (e.g. aquatic chemistry, environmental biotechnology)

EFMH faculty recognize the variety of student interests and career goals and are strongly supportive of programs of study containing courses both from within and outside the School of Engineering. For more information on the extensive range of coursework opportunities at Stanford, please refer to the Stanford Bulletin.