Hydrologie is a scientific discipline that studies the movement, distribution and resources of water on Earth. Hydrology includes the study of evaporation and transpiration, the evolution of floods, storm surge, modulation of hydrological processes by surface temperature and roughness and the role of ecosystems in the water cycle. A practitioner of hydrology is called a hydrologist.
Water is vital to humans and life on the planet. People harness its power to make buildings, bridges and canals; run cities, farms and businesses; and create electricity. The water cycle constantly recycles liquid, gas and solid water through the ground, the surface of the Earth, and into the sky. It is this endless process, known as the hydrologic cycle, that hydrologists study.
Hydrology is a very old science. It has been around in various forms for thousands of years. The Romans, for instance, were able to harness the power of flowing rivers to supply their city with fresh drinking water thanks to a massive hydrological system.
It took a while for hydrology to develop as an independent field of study, however. Despite the fact that water infrastructure existed since the dawn of civilization, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that hydrology emerged as a separate scientific discipline. It was largely because of the efforts of hydrologist Robert Nace that the International Hydrological Decade was launched in 1965.
Hydrologists have a wide range of professional interests. Some research focuses on controlling floods, while others work to ensure that a nation has enough clean, fresh water to last through a drought. Still other hydrologists use a method of examining tree rings to help predict historical climate conditions like rainfall and drought.
In some cases, hydrologists have even developed a way to produce electricity by tapping into the energy of flowing water. This type of hydroelectric power is called hydropower and can be used to run factories, provide illumination for homes or businesses, and heat and cool our planet.
As the world’s water resources continue to shrink, it becomes more important than ever to understand and improve the natural hydrological process. As such, the hydrologist’s job is one of the most crucial in our modern world.