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HYDROLOGY | definition

The term hydrology is from Greek: hydōr, "water"; and, logos,

the science dealing with the occurrence, circulation, distribution, a
nd properties of the waters of the earth and its atmosphere.
HYDROLOGY | history
The Romans constructed
numerous aqueducts to bring
water from distant sources Perault
into their cities and towns. Linked rainfall to flow
Waste water was removed by of the river Seine
complex sewage systems and Marriotte
released into nearby bodies of Combined velocity Poiseuille
water. Some aqueducts also and river cross Stokes
provided water for mining, section to obtain Manning
processing, manufacturing, discharge of the river Reynolds
and agriculture. Seine Mead
4000 BC 200 AD 1500 1800 1850 1900
Leonardo da Vinci and Pitot Hazen
Along the Indus River,
Bernard Palissy Bernoulli Gumbel
Pakistan, the Tigris and
independently Euler Hurst
Euphrates in
reached an accurate Chezy Meinzer
Mesopotamia, Hwang
representation of the Dalton Hubbert
Ho in China, and the
hydrologic cycle Made progress in Prandtl
Nile in Egypt that the
applications of Chow
first hydraulic engineers
mathematics, fluid Thornthwaite
created canals, levees,
mechanics, Penman
dams, subsurface water
and hydraulics Horton
conduits, and wells
Worked on
groundwater hydrology
HYDROLOGY | branches

Chemical Eco Surface Drainage Basin

Hydrogeology Hydrometeorology
Hydrology Hydrology Hydrology Management
Study of Study of Study of the Study of the Study of Covers water-
chemical interactions distribution and transfer of water hydrologic storage, in the
characteristics of of living movement of and energy processes that form of
water organisms groundwater in between land and operate at or reservoirs, and
and the the soils and water body near Earth's flood-
Water Quality hydrologic rocks of the surfaces and the surface protection
Chemistry of cycle Earth’s crust lower atmosphere
water in rivers
and lakes, both
of pollutants
and natural
HYDROLOGY | applications
Assessing impacts of Determining the
natural and human water balance
environmental for a region
change on water
Designing resources
systems Designing
water and Determining
sewer agricultural
Assessing water balance
export of systems
sediment & Predicting
nutrients from floods
fields to water

Designing buffers
HYDROLOGY | the hydrologic cycle

Subsurface flow

HYDROLOGY | themes | atmospheric water
“Water present in the
atmosphere either as a solid
(snow, hail), liquid (rain) or gas
(fog, mist)”

• Cloud formation
• Precipitation types
• Measuring precipitation
• Evaporation types
• Estimating evaporation
HYDROLOGY | themes | surface water
“Water at the surface,
whether stagnant in the form
of surface storage or flowing in
rivers, or as overland flow on

• Bernoulli’s equation
• Measuring water velocity
and flow
• Hydrograph analysis
• Pollutant loads
HYDROLOGY | themes | groundwater & soil water
“Water beneath the land
surface that fully saturates the
pores in the ground is called

“Water stored in the

unsaturated zone above the
water table is called soil water”

• Aquifers
• Darcy’s Law
• Soil moisture
• Capillary rise & evaporation
• Infiltration & percolation
HYDROLOGY | distribution of earth’s water
HYDROLOGY | fresh water
HYDROLOGY | fresh water | rivers & lakes
HYDROLOGY | watershed | definition

“A watershed is an extent or an area

of land here surface
water from rain and melting
snow or ice converges to a single
point, usually the exit of the basin,
where the waters join another water
body, such as river, lake, reservoir,
wetland, sea, or ocean”

Also known as:

• Catchment
• Catchment area
• Catchment basin
• Drainage area
• River basin
• Water basin
HYDROLOGY | watershed | US hydrologic regions
HYDROLOGY | watershed | hydrologic classification
1. Region
21 nationally
4. Watershed
5-15 per sub-basin

2. Sub-region
221 nationally
5. Sub-watershed
5-15 per watershed
3. Basins
378 nationally

4. Sub-basins
2246 nationally
700 square miles
average area
HYDROLOGY | watershed | characteristic factors
Topography determines the speed with which the runoff will reach a
river. Clearly rain that falls in steep mountainous areas will reach the river
faster than flat or gently sloping areas.

Shape will contribute to the speed with which the runoff reaches a river.
A long thin catchment will take longer to drain than a circular catchment.

Size will help determine the amount of water reaching the river, as the
larger the catchment the greater the potential for flooding.

Soil type
Soil type will help determine how much water reaches the river.
Sandy soils are very free draining and rainfall on sandy soil is likely to be
absorbed by the ground.
Clayey soils can be almost impermeable and therefore rainfall on clay
soils will runoff and contribute to flood volumes.

Land use
Land use can contribute to the volume of water reaching the river, in a
similar way to clay soils. For example, rainfall on
roofs, pavements and roads will be collected by rivers with almost no
absorption into the groundwater.

Precipitation, snow, seasonality, fire, soil, nutrients, flora/fauna, ground

water, floods, rivers, climate change?
• Introduction to Physical Hydrology, Martin R. Hendricks
• Hydrology and Floodplain Analysis, Bedient, Huber and Vieux
• National Geographic Magazine