Hydrology is the study of the occurrence, distribution, circulation, and behavior of water and water-borne materials in the environment of Earth. It includes practical measurement and technical analysis of water phenomena underground, on the Earth's surface, and in the atmosphere. Contemporary hydrologic problems costing society $10-100 billion per year include environmental restoration, sustainability of groundwater and surface water resources, water pollution, and natural disasters such as floods, droughts, landslides, avalanches, and land subsidence. The management of these problems demands hydrologic scientists with the comprehensive, interdisciplinary education embodied in this program. Beyond its societal utility, hydrology can be an exciting science for the curious-minded. Hydrologists explore natural phenomena such as climate change, waterfalls, health of coral reefs, biogeochemical cycles, and aquifers.
The Program. A hydrologist needs a strong background across the basic sciences of physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology. Breadth of understanding comes from exposure to ecology, geology, engineering, policy, and law. Depth of experience is provided by core hydrology courses, internship opportunities, and practical outdoor training. Students choose electives to match their interests and career goals. Transfer students should have completed as much as possible of the preparatory subject matter listed below.
Internships and Career Alternatives. Job opportunities in hydrology exceed the available supply of trained hydrologists. Students commonly obtain internships and jobs with state and federal agencies, private consulting firms, environmental interest groups, irrigation districts, and utility companies. Federal agencies hiring hydrologists include the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Agriculture (Fish and Wildlife, Agricultural Research, Forest Service, and National Resource Conservation Service), Environmental Protection Agency, and national research laboratories (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory). State and local agency employers include California's Departments of Water Resources, Conservation, Fish and Game, and Toxic Substances as well as the Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards. To obtain higher levels of responsibility and salary, hydrologists often seek advanced degrees, and the hydrology major is designed to provide students with a highly competitive education to get into graduate school.
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Updated: March 22, 2017 10:38 AM