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About The Department
Brief History: The Early Years
The Department of Hydrology and Water Resources had its origins within the Department of Geology in 1961 when it became an area of specialization within that major. A governing committee, spearheaded by Dr. John W. Harshbarger* (then Department Head of Geology), oversaw the development of the specialized undergraduate and graduate curricula which had their basis in the physical science, mathematical, and engineering disciplines. Academic course work was coupled with development of HWR field methodology and practice, as well as theoretical and applied research. In 1966, the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona became the first autonomous department (independent from other majors) in the nation dedicated solely to the study of water. A more detailed history can be found here.
Mission: To Educate, Discover, and Serve
Since its founding in 1966, the department's mission has been to provide the highest quality undergraduate and graduate education in the field of hydrology and water resources; to engage in nationally recognized basic, applied, and theoretical research; and to serve professionally the local community, the State of Arizona, and national and international communities. All members of the HWR community--students, faculty, and staff--contribute to these efforts.
Vision: Transformation in the 21st Century
In July 2009, the campus-wide Transformation effort led to the founding of the new School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES), a federation of four academic departments and two major laboratories: the Departments of Atmospheric Sciences, Geosciences, and Hydrology and Water Resources; the Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research; the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory; and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science. The school was formed to address issues related to global climate change, water resources, and other critical environmental issues.
The department's vision going forward in the 21st century remains focused on the guiding principles of its earliest years. The strengths of our department can be loosely grouped within recognized sub-disciplines of hydrology:
- subsurface hydrology
- surface hydrology
- water chemistry
- (water resources) systems analysis and decision support
- ecohydrology-terrestrial hydrometeorology
Individual faculty members typically are associated with more than one of these sub-disciplines, reflecting our holistic approach to hydrology.
Indeed, we strongly believe that the future of hydrologic science lies in understanding and quantifying levels of organization within complex hydrologic and environmental systems.
Hydrologic systems (hillslopes, riparian areas, aquifers, catchments, etc.) all interact, respond, and adapt to changes in drivers (climate, human impacts) on a range of space and time scales. Disturbances (wild fire, tree die-off, urbanization) propagate at different rates and affect landforms, soil properties and their spatial structure, as well as terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
In order to develop research/management strategies, both professional and academic hydrologists must have a fundamental understanding of how different hydrological processes are affected by these system properties, as well as a profound understanding of how system properties are coupled and co-evolve.
The research and teaching portfolio of our department reflects this new paradigm of integrated hydrologic science. Today we combine both the historical and existing strengths that have developed within our department and founded our science with a vision of future research and training needs.
*Read more about John W. Harshbarger's founding of the department in the History section of this website.
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