Hydrology is an Earth science focusing on the movement, storage, and properties of water in the environment as well as the interaction of water with environmental and human systems. At the center of this field is a set of physical processes including precipitation, interception, evaporation, transpiration, infiltration, aquifer recharge, groundwater flow, and streamflow that move water in the environment. Hydrology involves the application of mathematical descriptions of these processes as well as statistical methods to account for the spatial variability and temporal dynamics. Many activities in civil and environmental engineering such as water supply planning, dam safety analysis, storm sewer design, irrigation system design, water rights administration, river restoration, floodplain management, and drought mitigation involve some type of hydrologic analysis, modeling, and/or decision making. Hydrology is also closely related to numerous policy issues such as climate change adaptation, food and energy production, urban planning, etc.
The Hydrologic Science and Engineering (HSE) program focuses on the science of hydrology and its application to engineering and interdisciplinary problems. The program helps students develop a thorough understanding of hydrologic processes, their variability and interrelationships, their connection to human and environmental systems, and their roles in policy making, planning, risk analysis, and design. Students can gain an in-depth understanding of data science, numerical modeling, statistical methods, geographical information systems (GIS), and field techniques. The program also helps students gain a broad understanding of related Earth sciences (such as meteorology, geology, and ecology) and water resources engineering in general.