In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hydrology

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Textbooks and Reference Books
  • Specialized Books and Book Series
  • Journals for Hydrologists
  • Select Publically Available International Hydrological Data Sets
  • Select Publically Available Hydrological Science Software
  • Internationally Recognized Scientific Organizations for Hydrologists

Geography Hydrology
John Van Stan
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 December 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 November 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0119


Hydrology is the study of water’s (i) movement, (ii) transport and storage of mass and energy, and (iii) distribution through, and exchange between, the biosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere. The field of hydrology seeks to describe, model, and predict the water cycle (and its connections to other biogeochemical and climatological processes) across spatiotemporal scales. The International Association of Hydrological Sciences’ (IAHS) objectives state, as of 3 March 2015, that these efforts from the hydrology community “provide firm scientific bases for the optimal utilization of water resources systems, including the transfer of knowledge on planning, engineering, management and economic aspects.” Indeed, applying insights from hydrologic investigation has proven valuable since even before the seeds of the modern scientific experimental method. The Roman engineer Vitruvius and naturalist Pliny the Elder both discussed how vegetation may be managed to manipulate water resources before the conclusion of the 1st century. By 1922 hydrology was officially recognized as its own discipline by the establishment of the section of Scientific Hydrology in the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. In the time since, hydrology has produced numerous subdisciplines, including: hydrometeorology, hydrogeology, hillslope hydrology, ecohydrology, isotope hydrology, watershed hydrology, hydrochemistry, hydromorphology, hydroinformatics, and vadose zone hydrology. The object of this article is to provide a brief annotated bibliography of key books, articles, journals, software, data sets, and internationally recognized scientific organizations for the field of hydrology.

Introductory Textbooks and Reference Books

Textbooks providing an entry-level qualitative understanding of hydrology are commonly used for lower-level hydrology courses (Ward and Trimble 2003, Pennington and Cech 2010). These textbooks are also useful in that they incorporate practical connections between the field of hydrology and current environmental issues (particularly Pennington and Cech 2010). For a quantitative (more mathematical) introduction to hydrological processes, textbooks for entry-to-intermediate-level hydrology courses exist (Hornberger, et al. 1998 and Gupta 2008). Hornberger, et al. 1998 supplies readers with quantitative description, examination, and discussion of the physical processes controlling water movement, and Gupta 2008 contextualizes these physical hydrological processes into the realm of water resource development and management. Leading reference guides to hydrology theory, applications, terminology, etc., have been developed (Maidment 1993, Anderson and McDonnell 2005). Useful to advanced undergraduate and graduate hydrology students as well as practitioners in the field, Anderson and McDonnell 2005 provides an all-inclusive compendium of our current understanding of hydrology and its related subfields. Just as invaluable, the Maidment 1993 handbook offers terminology, methods, background, and advice with regard to hydrological applications.

  • Anderson, M. G., and J. J. McDonnell, eds. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 5 vols. Chichester, UK: John Wiley, 2005.

    Comprehensive five-volume compilation of articles on all aspects of hydrology, beginning with an introduction to theory, organization, and scales of hydrologic research. Concludes with an appendix of commonly used hydrologic software.

  • Gupta, R. S. Hydrology and Hydraulic Systems. Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2008.

    Quantitatively describes fundamental concepts, theories, and components of water resource development.

  • Hornberger, G. M., J. P. Raffensperger, P. L. Wiberg, and K. N. Eshleman. Elements of Physical Hydrology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

    Introduces readers to hydrology via description of the underlying physical principles of fluid movement, within the varied contexts of watersheds, conduits, channels, and groundwater systems.

  • Maidment, D., ed. Handbook of Hydrology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993.

    A reference guide that ties hydrological theory to practical hydrological applications, including expert guidance and solutions to common problems experienced by practicing hydrologists.

  • Pennington, K. L., and T. V. Cech. Introduction to Water Resources and Environmental Issues. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    Discusses hydrologic fundamentals alongside major human-environmental issues (e.g., climate change, drought, waterborne disease, and increasing water demands) to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of water resource issues.

  • Ward A. D., and S. W. Trimble. Environmental Hydrology. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2003.

    Conveys a qualitative understanding of hydrologic processes and methods while also providing views and opinions to aid students in applying hydrological concepts to environmental careers.

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