Hydrology

Jun 14, 2013 Debra Cheung

Mission

To advance hydrology as science and technology, teach the principles and applications of hydrology and disseminate information about hydrologic issues needed for responsible and sustainable management of water resources while preserving the natural ecosystem and enhancing the environment.

Faculty

Total FTE of 15.40 (including one open position) is composed of 2.85 I&R; 6.55 OR and 6.00 CE FTE. In the past six years seven faculty have retired or resigned, whereas in the same period only two new faculty were hired. Furthermore, by the year 2000 one faculty member will be age 69 and another will be age 60. These loses have and will continue to severely impact the research and teaching programs.

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (current)

  • Vadose zone hydrology (processes between the land surface and the water table)
  • Irrigation and drainage systems, soil salinity/drainage processes, plant-water relations
  • Local- to watershed-scale groundwater hydrology, including agricultural impacts
  • Geostatistics and geology related to groundwater and the vadose zone
  • Geographic Information systems (GIS) related to hydrology, pollution, and risk assessment
  • Remote sensing of land, soil and vegetation surface for hydrologic analysis

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (5-10 years)

Same as above, plus:
  • Continued development of Watershed hydrology and alpine hydrology
  • Hydrobiology

Program Impact/Ranking

The Hydrology Program is unique, treating hydrologic science as interdisciplinary and integrative, rather than as a subdiscipline of a traditional field. Nationally, only two other institutions have academic units devoted solely to hydrology or hydrologic sciences - Universities of Arizona and Nevada, Reno, the latter having been inspired by UC Davis' Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Group. Although no external ranking exists for hydrology programs, colleagues at our competitor institutions frequently state that our teaching and research programs would rank highly (>90th percentile).

Extramural Grants and Gifts

Direct cost expenditures for 97/98 were $1,092,239 and for 98/99 were $1,264,987, not including substantial funds expended outside the program through TSTRP, JMIE, etc. Funding sources include NSF, USDA, USGS, DOE and EPA, various state agencies (DHS, SWRCB, DWR), and private gifts and endowments.

Teaching Programs of the Department

The Hydrology Program forms the core of the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Group (HSGG), offering M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. HSGG enrollments consistently average 30-50, with at least another 10 students from other graduate groups studying under our faculty. At the undergraduate level, we offer most of the water-related courses in support of the environmental and resource science (ERS) major, for which 49 and 38 student majors can be attributed to hydrology in 1997-98 and 1998-99, respectively. We also offer a strong undergraduate hydrology B.S. and a minor that are especially suited for students continuing on to graduate school or technical problem-solving careers. The hydrology B.S. had nine students in 1997-98 and six in 1998-99. We also teach courses essential to the Geographic Information Systems minor. Student credit hours recorded to hydrology faculty were 2,230 in 1997-98 and 2,155 in 1998-99.

Outreach/Extension Roles

The hydrology CE programs focus primarily on irrigated agriculture and plant-water relations, but also include a new and unique, environmentally focused program on groundwater quality. The emphases on sound irrigation practices and associated environmental impacts are paramount, as irrigation uses over 75 percent of California' developed fresh-water supply. Owing to faculty retirements and redirects, the burden of sustaining the department' world-class reputation in irrigation rests primarily on the shoulders of the Hydrology Program' CE specialists. Since the retirement of Bob Hagan from LAWR, there has been a lack of campus presence at the interface between hydrology and water policy.

Potential for Collaborative Links to Other Units to Develop Clusters of Excellence

Through our vigorous participation in graduate groups (especially HSGG) and campus centers (CEHR, CIWAMM, Superfund, TSTRP) the Hydrology Program has been instrumental in linking with a variety of academic units and individuals both inside and outside CA&ES. We have used these links to help optimize and economize our course offerings and to attract extramural funding. We continue to nurture and expand these links through, among other activities, our efforts to effect unification of UC Davis water scientists via the HSGG, through our unselfish cooperation in developing a campus watershed science plan, and through our participation in the recently formed Committee of Water Chairs. Joint appointments that would catalyze linkages and clusters of excellence are mentioned below under "Priorities."

Positions Needed to Improve Research, Teaching and Extension Goals

  1. Water quality management/watershed chemistry: rebuild our core area strength in water quality, after retirement of four faculty in the water quality area
  2. Environmental fluid mechanics: provide essential support on land-atmosphere interaction for watershed initiative; rebuild research and teaching programs of recently resigned Parlange
  3. Terrestrial hydrobiology: hydrology of plants in watershed science, agriculture, and restoration ecology; catalyze new interfaces between hydrology and biology
  4. Subsurface hydrology: sustain the leadership role of the Hydrology Program in vadose zone and groundwater hydrology, including contaminant transport at the watershed scale
  5. Snow hydrology: one of the four campus-wide new appointments needed to build a proposed core group in Alpine Hydrology (1998 proposal to the provost).
  6. Stream/estuarine hydrobiology: facilitate integration of physical/chemical sciences in aquatic ecosystems, at the most fundamental level and including the watershed scale.

Priorities (No Growth)

Since we lost a faculty position earlier this year by resignation, and since we predict three retirements between now and 2006, our recruitment priorities in a "no-growth" scenario would involve four positions. These would be positions 1, 2, 3 and 6, and would involve some redirection in enhancing atmospheric chemistry. In a minimal growth scenario (10 percent or 1 FTE), we would add position 5, which, along with position 1, would be an integral component of the campus Initiative on the Environment and its emphasis on integrated watershed science.

Priorities (Minimal Growth)

(~1.0 FTE). Fill snow hydrology position in support of watershed initiative and of new core area in alpine hydrology (1998 proposal to provost), which also includes faculty positions in remote sensing, fluvial geomorphology, and env. fluid mechanics (pos. 2), all potentially joint with C&E Eng., Geology, and B&A Eng., respectively.

Projected Resource Needs and Strategies for Achieving

Additional space is needed to replace lab, storage and student office space lost following demolition of four buildings behind Veihmeyer to accommodate the new Plant & Env. Sci. building. Such needs can be partly addressed by building a new storage facility at the Campbell Tract and use of Hunt Hall. Renovated space is needed in or close to Veihmeyer to house Dr. Ustin' remote sensing laboratory. Further, central air conditioning is sorely needed to make Veihmeyer Hall a modern facility.

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