History of Hydrology
Hydrology has been a subject of investigation and engineering for millennia. For example, about 4000 B.C. the Nile was dammed to improve agricultural productivity of previously barren lands.Mesopotamian towns were protected from flooding with high earthen walls. aqueducts were built by the Greeks and Ancient Romans, while the history of China shows they built irrigation and flood control works. The ancient Sinhalese used hydrology to build complex irrigation works in Sri Lanka, also known for invention of the Valve Pit which allowed construction of large reservoirs, anicutsand canals which still function. Marcus Vitruvius, in the first century B.C., described a philosophical theory of the hydrologic cycle, in which precipitation falling in the mountains infiltrated the Earth's surface and led to streams and springs in the lowlands. With adoption of a more scientific approach, Leonardo da Vinci and Bernard Palissy independently reached an accurate representation of the hydrologic cycle. It was not until the 17th century that hydrologic variables began to be quantified. Pioneers of the modern science of hydrology include Pierre Perrault, Edme Mariotte and Edmund Halley. By measuring rainfall, runoff, and drainage area, Perrault showed that rainfall was sufficient to account for flow of the Seine. Marriotte combined velocity and river cross-section measurements to obtain discharge, again in the Seine. Halley showed that the evaporation from the Mediterranean Sea was sufficient to account for the outflow of rivers flowing into the sea. Advances in the 18th century included the Bernoulli piezometer and Bernoulli's equation, by Daniel Bernoulli, the Pitot tube. The 19th century saw development in groundwater hydrology, includingDarcy's law, the Dupuit-Thiem well formula, and Hagen-Poiseuille's capillary flow equation. Rational analyses began to replace empiricism in the 20th century, while governmental agencies began their own hydrological research programs. Of particular importance were Leroy Sherman'sunit hydrograph, the infiltration theory of Robert E. Horton, and C.V. Theis's aquifer test/equation describing well hydraulics. Since the 1950s, hydrology has been approached with a more theoretical basis than in the past, facilitated by advances in the physical understanding of hydrological processes and by the advent of computers and especially geographic information systems (GIS).
The hydrologic cycle begins with the evaporation of water from the surface of the ocean. As moist air is lifted, it cools and water vapor condenses to form clouds. Moisture is transported around the globe until it returns to the surface as precipitation. Once the water reaches the ground, one of two processes may occur; 1) some of the water may evaporate back into the atmosphere or 2) the water may penetrate the surface and become groundwater. Groundwater either seeps its way to into the oceans, rivers, and streams, or is released back into the atmosphere through transpiration. The balance of water that remains on the earth's surface is runoff, which empties into lakes, rivers and streams and is carried back to the oceans, where the cycle begins again.
A River basin is the portion of land drained by a river and its tributaries. It encompasses the entire land surface dissected and drained by many streams and creeks that flow downhill into one another, and eventually into one river. The final destination is an estuary or an ocean. As a bathtub catches all the water that falls within its sides, a river basin sends all the water falling on the surrounding land into a central river and out to the sea. A river basin is an area of land drained by a river and its tributaries. River basins have typical features, these include: Tributaries - smaller rivers flowing into a larger river.
A Watershed - an area of highland surrounding the river basin. A confluence - where a river joins another river....
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