Physical Geography


The Department of Physical Geography and Hydro-meteorology was established in 1933 as a Department of Physical Geography; later, in 2009, it was renamed a Department of Physical Geography and Hydro-meteorology.

Hayrapet Hovhannisyan was the founder and first Head of the Department. Later, the Department was headed by Professors Stepan Lisitsyan, Gevorg Zubyan, Andranik Baghdasaryan, Hrachya Gabrielyan, Associate Professors Kirakos Ohanyan, Khachik Nazaryan, Ashot Khoetsyan, Vilen Metanjyan (acting Head of Departement), Boris Mnatsakanyan. Associate Professor Trahel Vardanian is the current Head of the Department.

The Department offers courses in the fields of Physical Geography and Hydro-meteorology and trains graduates in these fields.

In past, scientific research was mainly carried out in physical geography, natural landscape, physical geographical and hydro-meteorologcal various processes.

In 1950s the members of the Department, S. Lisitsyan, H. Gabrielyan, S. Balayan and Kh. Nazaryan had a series of in-depth research of Armenia's relief and drew large scale physical geographical and geomorphological maps.

Since 1960s the Department staff has carried out a series of research of the erosion, mud-flow and general denudation phenomena on the territory of the Republic. The results of the research have been published as scientific articles and monographs. Among them, it is worth mentioning H. Gabrielyan's works entitled “River Erosion in Armenian SSR”, “Nature and Water Erosion in Transcaucasus”. In the afore-mentioned years G. Zubyan, A. Baghdasaryan, G. Aleksandryan, J. Atayan and H. Khachatryan carried out thorough research on Armenian Highland and the climatic conditions of the Republic of Armenia, too.

The Department has also contributed to scientific-methodological research; the Department staff has published a number of textbooks, manuals and reference-books for universities. To note large monographs, such as S. Lisitsyan's “Physical Geography of Armenian SSR”, H. Gabrielyan's “The Hydrosphere of the Earth”, “The Earth and its Landscape Mantle”,

“Landscape Geochemistry”, and “Armenian Highland”.

In the last decade, the Department has fostered collaboration with leading universities of some countries all over the world and international organizations.

In the recent years, the Department of Physcial Geography and Hydro-meteorology has organized a number of international large-scale conferences and workshops, dedicated to biogeographical and ecological aspects of desertification, use and conservation of water resources, issues of prevention of water disasters and risk assessment; the findings of the conferences were published in scientific journals.

The Department teaching staff has had active participation in international conferences and workshops abroad.

The Department staff members have been actively enrolled in voluminous work on compilation of the “Naitonal Atlas of Armenia” and are also authors of many maps. In recent years, the teaching staff has published hundreds of scientific and scientific-methodological papers and monographs in Armenia and abroad (“Armenian Highland and Physical Geographical Regions” (A. Khoetsyan and D. Poghosyan), “The Cause-and-effect Correlations of Desertification and Principles of Spatio-temporal Evaluation in the Republic of Armenia” (A. Khoetsyan and R. Mkrtchyan), “Runoff of Rivers in Armenia and Evaluation of Runoff Change under Conditions of the Global Warming of Climate” (T. Vardanian), “The Anthropogenic Transformation of South Caucasus Environment” (T. Vardanian, H. Balyan and others), “Syunik Marz”, “Shirak Marz”, “Lori Marz” (A. Grigoryan and others), “Geography and Literature” (K. Aleksanyan)).

The Department laos carries out research entitled “The Evaluation of Vulnerability of the RA Water Resources and Development of Adaptibility of Water Bodies Under Conditions of Global Warming of Climate” (supervised by T. Vardanian), and “ Designing Geographical Principles of Combat Against the RA Landscape Degradation and Rationalization” (Supervised by A. Khoetsyan).

The Department staff members have established an international NGO "Scientific-reesarch Center on Water, Climatic and Recreational Resources” (President, T. Vardanian, Vice-President, A. Grigoryan, Executive Director, Ch. Hakopian).

The Department staff has also published the book of course syllabi of the Department.

The Department of Physical Geography and Hydro-meteorology of Yerevan State University uses the potential of its sections for operation. The Department comprises the Geography of Armenia studies centre, named after its founder, Professor Khachik Nazaryan, Hydro-meteorology laboratory and Physical Geography studies centre.

The Geography of Armenia studies centre serves for courses on Armenia as well as provides students and teaching staff with required literature resources. The depository of literature on Geography of Armenia is mostly stored in the centre. It contains maps and landscape paintings, as well as exhibited collection of mineral resources and didactic material.

The Physical Geography studies centre serves for core specialty courses and also has a rich depository of literature in physical geography. The literature, widely used by students and teaching staff, covers various aspects of physical geography, namely, the relief and geology, geomorphology, climatology, soil science and landscape science. This centre has a rich collection of maps, which are used at lectures and practical trainings, aimed at fostering the effectiveness of learning.

The Hydro-meteorological laboratory, one of the updated structures of the Department, mainly serves for the courses of specialty “Hydro-meteorology”. The laboratory stores a number of literature on hydrology and meteorology, as well as some hydrometric and meteorological equipment and tools, used at practical trainings and field-works. The laboratory is also equipped with a computer that contains comtemporary specialized software, used for effective learning process.

The Department has a Bachelor level porgramme with 2 specialties (duration of studies is 4 years):

1. Physical geography

2. Hydro-meteorology

From the third year of studies, students have the opportunity to choose the specialites of:

3. Physical geography

4. Hydorlogy and hydro-ecology

5. Meteorology and climatology

The Department also offers 2 Master's level programmes (duration of studies 2 years):

1. Physical geography

2. Hydro-meteorology

On Bachelor level students write two term papers (2nd and 3rd year of studies) and one undergraduate thesis.

Scientific research

The main areas of research in the Department are as follows:

- Climate change

- Issues of desertification

- Landscape degradation

- Use and conservation of water resources

- Forecasting of hydro-meteorological disasters, risk assessment

- Geo-eoclogical issues

- Ecological climatology

In the last three years (2008-2010) the Department staff carried out state-funded research projects entitled: “The Assessment of Vulnerability of Water Resources and the Development of Ways of Adaptability for Water Bodies in the Republic of Armenia under Conditions of the Global Warming of Climate” (supervised by T. vardanian), “Elaboration of Geographical Fundamentals of Combat against and Rationalisaiton for the RA Landscape Degradation” (supervised by A. Khoetsyan).

In various years the Department has been awarded with international grants:

2002 - Individual Research Grant from MacArtur Foundation. - Project entitled “The Dynamic Changes of the River Runoff in the 20th Century and Their Evaluation Under the Conditions of the Global Climate Change (in the Republic of Armenia)” (T. Vardanian)

2007 - Grant from NATO for organization NATO Advanced Research “Natural Disasters and Water Security: Risk Assessment, Emergency Response, and Environmental Management” (T. Vardanian)

2010 - Grant from CRDF “Development of a new MS program: Climate Change and Sustainable Development with the Emphasis on the Southern Caucasus” (T. Vardanian)

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and independence of Armenia, in 1995 the Geographical Specialization Council for Awarding Scientific Degree was established; in the years to follow the Council fostered the development of science in the country.

The Department of Physical geography and Hydro-meteorology had the honour to present the defence of the first dissertation in the Board (T. Vardanian's PhD dissertaiton entitled “The Minimal Runoff of Rivers of the Republic of Armenia and its Calculation” was appointed for defence).

Since its establishment till now the Council has passed three full doctoral and 8 PhD dissertations.