“About water in the profession” – hydrologist

We continue our series of publications on the role of water in the daily work of practitioners and academics in various fields related to the subject of water. In this issue of “Water Issues”, Professor Andrzej Walga – hydrologist, President of the Association of Polish Hydrologists – writes about his experiences with water.

Hydrology – a passion, a challenge, a hobby?

The word “hydrology” is derived from Greek, where “hydro” means water and “logos” means science, knowledge. So, freely translated, hydrology is the science of water. Of course, this is a very large generalization and simplification, as it is very diverse, divided into many areas of research.

Studying hydrology at the Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy at the then Kraków Agricultural Academy (now the Hugo Kołłątaj Agricultural University), I found it difficult to understand why my teachers and mentors were so fascinated by this area of science. The subject seemed easy and enjoyable, but other than compiling numerous tables, graphs and curves, not much came out of it for me. Years later, I came to understand that these numbers, compilations and charts are crucial to understanding the particle of nature that is water and to the practice of hydraulic engineering. It was only during my doctoral studies that it became obvious to me that the quantity of water and its circulation are as important as its quality. And so, over time, I imbibed “hydrology”, which for me is now no longer just an area of science that I deal with professionally, but also a kind of “mental entertainment”.

The work of a hydrologist involves conducting systematic studies (quantitative and qualitative) of the water cycle in nature during the hydrological cycle, analyzing the water balance of a catchment and its temporal and spatial variability, as well as developing and improving mathematical models, concerning the water cycle in a catchment for the purpose of making hydrological forecasts and input data for planners. Another important aspect of the work is the study of the impact of natural and anthropogenic factors on water quantity and quality resources.

Hydrology is a science that allows us to explore the process of water circulation in a catchment (that’s more from an Earth science perspective), but it’s also crucial for engineers and planners, and should be for decision makers as well. Today we live in a world of rapid development of techniques and tools, also used in hydrology. The work in this field is, in a great many cases, computationally advanced, uses diverse sources of information, and is increasingly multidisciplinary. Mathematical sciences and statistics have entered hydrology very strongly. So coming up with an experiment, conducting it, describing it and then publishing it are huge challenges. It is increasingly important, from my point of view, to combine hydrology with other areas of science, such as sociology, because only then can we see what influence hydrology has on human behavior and how humans modify the environment. This is especially important at a time when we are seeing ongoing climate change and, perhaps most importantly, changes in catchment area use.

But hydrology is also a practice. In design documents, hydrological calculations are on the first few pages. They are extremely important to the success of the overall project. Making a mistake in hydrological analyses will result in “trashing” even the most complex design calculations. So, for me, hydrology also has a huge practical dimension, coupled with the great responsibility of those paring it in a solid approach to the calculations carried out.

The important thing about the hydrology profession is that it is able to look ahead and predict the consequences of our actions on the environment. Such knowledge should be helpful for variant analysis of human activities in the environment. At the same time, the hydrologist provides key information for specialists (designers) in other areas, knowledge necessary for their actions, such as in the design of hydraulic structures or in ecohydraulics. It is during extreme hydrological events (floods and droughts) that the public gets information from the hydrologist about the scale of the threat, the causes and forecasts for the development of events. This information often helps protect citizens from property damage and even loss of health or life.

I believe that hydrology is underestimated in society. Young people in particular fail to recognize its importance in the broader national economy. We only notice its value in emergency situations, such as floods or droughts. The problem is that with our actions we want to treat only the effects, without making a proper diagnosis. Hence all hydrometeorological disasters. In my view, hydrology is currently being done by passionate people, which is good, but may not be enough in terms of market demand for experts. From an educational point of view, hydrology for me is the story of the journey of water from source to mouth, which I gladly share with my students, hoping that in the future they will add more chapters to the story.

The author is a PhD engineer in agricultural sciences with a specialization in hydrology, water and wastewater management, and a professor at the University of Agriculture named after him. Hugo Kołłątaj in Cracow. He works at the Department of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, in the Department of Sanitary Engineering and Water Management. President of the Association of Polish Hydrologists.

Używamy plików cookie, aby zapewnić najlepszą jakość korzystania z Internetu. Zgadzając się, zgadzasz się na użycie plików cookie zgodnie z naszą polityką plików cookie.

Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Ustawienie prywatności

Kiedy odwiedzasz dowolną witrynę internetową, może ona przechowywać lub pobierać informacje w Twojej przeglądarce, głównie w formie plików cookie. Tutaj możesz kontrolować swoje osobiste usługi cookie.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

For perfomance reasons we use Cloudflare as a CDN network. This saves a cookie "__cfduid" to apply security settings on a per-client basis. This cookie is strictly necessary for Cloudflare's security features and cannot be turned off.
  • __cfduid