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Course: CE 410 (Hydrology) Lecture # 01: Introduction to Hydrology


The study of occurrence and distribution of the natural waters of the Earth

The science that treats the waters of the Earth, their occurrence, circulation, and distribution, their chemical and physical properties, and their reaction with the environment, including the relation to living things. The domain of hydrology embraces the full life history of water on Earth. (US National Research Council, 1991)

History and Development of Hydrology as a Field of Study

3000 BC evidence of groundwater utilization through wells were uncovered through archaeological excavations along Mohenjo-Daro (site where Indus Valley civilization flourished)

Egyptians did streamflow measurements at the Nile River (1800 BC).

The first description and use of rain gauge was described by Chanakya (300 BC).

Frontinus (97 AD) estimated streamflow based on cross-sectional area of the channel alone, not considering stream velocity.

Descriptions of rain gauge, wind vane, and prediction procedures for rainfall were described by Varahamihira (505-587 AD).

Leonardo da Vinci (ca. 1500) was one of the first to conceptualize the hydrologic cycle but Perreault of France offered the first recorded evidence of occurrence of the cycle (ca.


Halley (ca. 1700), an English astronomer, had shown that oceanic evaporation is more than enough for occurrence of precipitation.

Systematic measurements of rainfall and streamflow were done by the government agencies of the United States (1819-1888).

Hydrology was drastically developed as a field of study during the 1930’s due to its immediate application in flood control, irrigation, soil conservation, and other related activities.


Linsley, R. (1958). Hydrology for Engineers. USA: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Linsley, R. (1992). Water Resources Engineering (4 th ed.). USA: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Mays, L. (2011). Water Resources Engineering (2 nd ed.). New Jersey, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Subramanya, K. (2008). Engineering Hydrology (3 rd ed.). New Delhi, India: Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Ltd.