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Branches and Divisions of Hydrology

By: Haseeb Jamal / On: Feb 21, 2017 / Notes

Hydrology can be broadly divided into two main branches: engineering hydrology and applied hydrology. Here's an explanation of each division:

Divisions of Hydrology

Hydrology can generally be divided into two main branches:

1. Engineering Hydrology

Engineering hydrology deals with the planning, design, and Operation of Engineering projects for the control and use of water. Engineering hydrology focuses on the application of hydrological principles and techniques to engineering and water resources management. It involves the quantitative analysis of water-related problems, such as flood forecasting, water supply planning, reservoir design, and hydraulic structures.

Engineering hydrology aims to understand and predict the behavior of water in natural and engineered systems. It involves collecting and analyzing hydrological data, such as rainfall, streamflow, and evaporation rates, to assess water availability, design water infrastructure, and manage water resources effectively. Mathematical models and statistical techniques are commonly used in engineering hydrology to simulate and predict hydrological processes.

The primary goal of engineering hydrology is to provide solutions and support decision-making in water resources engineering, flood control, irrigation systems, urban water management, and other engineering applications.

2. Applied Hydrology

Applied hydrology is the study of the hydrological cycle, precipitation, runoff, the relationship between precipitation and runoff, hydrographs, and Flood Routing. Applied hydrology focuses on the practical application of hydrological knowledge and techniques in various fields and disciplines. It involves the use of hydrological principles to address specific problems or issues related to water resources and the environment.

Applied hydrology applies hydrological concepts and methodologies to areas such as agriculture, environmental studies, water supply management, watershed management, and climate change impact assessments. It involves understanding the hydrological processes and their interactions with other components of the environment to make informed decisions and develop sustainable solutions.

Applied hydrology often involves interdisciplinary collaboration with other fields such as ecology, geography, geology, and environmental sciences. It utilizes hydrological data, models, and analysis techniques to assess the impacts of water-related activities, develop water management strategies, and address challenges related to water resources sustainability.

In summary, engineering hydrology focuses on the quantitative analysis and engineering applications of hydrological principles, while applied hydrology applies hydrological knowledge and techniques to solve specific water-related problems in various disciplines. Both branches contribute to our understanding of water resources and play a crucial role in managing and protecting this valuable natural resource.

Branches of Hydrology

Hydrology, the study of water and its movement in the environment encompasses various branches that focus on different aspects of water systems and processes. Here is an explanation of the main branches of hydrology:

1. Chemical Hydrology

Study of chemical characteristics of water. Chemical hydrology examines the chemical composition of water, including its dissolved substances and contaminants. It involves studying water quality, water pollution, and the chemical interactions between water and the environment.

2. Ecohydrology

Interaction between organisms and the hydrological cycle. Ecohydrology explores the interactions between water and ecosystems. It examines how water availability and dynamics affect the distribution and functioning of ecosystems, and how ecosystems, in turn, influence water resources.

3. Hydrogeology

Also referred to as geohydrology, is the study of the presence and movement of groundwater. Hydrogeology focuses on groundwater, studying its occurrence, movement, and properties in subsurface aquifers. It deals with topics such as groundwater exploration, aquifer characterization, and groundwater resource management.

4. Hydroinformatics

is the adaptation of information technology to hydrology and water resource applications. Hydroinformatics combines hydrology with computer science and information technology. It involves the development and application of computational tools, models, and data analysis techniques to manage and analyze hydrological data, support decision-making, and improve water resources management.

5. Hydrometeorology

is the study of the transfer of water and energy between land and water body surfaces and the lower atmosphere. Hydrometeorology examines the interaction between water and the atmosphere. It involves the study of precipitation, evaporation, atmospheric moisture, and weather patterns to understand and predict hydrological processes, such as rainfall-runoff relationships.

6. Isotope Hydrology

is the study of isotropic signatures of water (origin and age of water). Isotope hydrology uses isotopic tracers to investigate the origin, movement, and age of water. It involves analyzing the stable and radioactive isotopes of water molecules to understand hydrological processes, such as groundwater recharge, surface water-groundwater interactions, and evaporation.

7. Surface Water Hydrology

is the study of hydrologic processes that operate at or near the earth’s surface. Surface water hydrology focuses on the study of rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and other surface water bodies. It involves measuring and analyzing the flow of water in rivers, estimating water availability, and understanding the dynamics of surface water systems.

8. Ground Water Hydrology

It is the study of underground water. Groundwater hydrology specifically focuses on the study of groundwater resources, aquifers, and their interactions with surface water and the surrounding environment. It involves monitoring groundwater levels, analyzing aquifer properties, and managing groundwater extraction.

9. Drainage Basin Management

It covers water storage in the form of reservoir and flood protection. Drainage basin management examines the holistic management of river basins and their associated water resources. It involves integrating various hydrological, ecological, and socio-economic factors to develop sustainable water management strategies at the basin scale.

10. Water Quality

It includes the chemistry of water in rivers and lakes, both of pollutants and natural solutes. Water quality hydrology deals with the study of water pollution, contaminants, and their impacts on water resources and ecosystems. It involves monitoring and assessing water quality parameters, understanding pollutant transport and fate, and developing strategies for water quality management and remediation.

These branches of hydrology are interconnected and often overlap in their focus areas and methodologies. They collectively contribute to our understanding of water resources, their management, and their interactions with the environment.


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