Hydrology Section, American Geophysical Union

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1930 -


The Hydrology Section is one of eleven in the American Geophysical Union. Its members are concerned with the cycling of continental water (solid, liquid and vapor) at all scales, and with physical, chemical and biological processes driven by that cycling. Of AGU’s almost 60,000 members, about 7000 list their primary affiliation with the hydrology section.

The stated purpose of the Section (per its bylaws) is “To promote the aims and activities of the American Geophysical Union within the field of hydrology and water resources including . promot[ing] the scientific study of hydrology and water resources and [making] the results of such studies available to the public; initiat[ing] and participat[ing] in hydrologic and water resource research programs including those which depend upon international cooperation, and promot[ing] cooperation among [other] scientific organizations whose objectives include furtherance of knowledge in the hydrologic and water resource disciplines.”

An article about the formation of the Hydrology Section of the American Geophysical Union, written by Oscar Meinzer, can be found here

From that article:

"At the annual meeting in May 1930 a Section of Hydrology was authorized to conform to the Section of Scientific Hydrology of the International Union. A meeting of the members of the Union who expressed their desire to be affiliated with the new Section of Hydrology was held at the National Research Council in Wash­ington, D. C.,on November 15, 1930. At this meeting the following officers were elected: Chairman, 0. E. Meinzer; Vice-Chairman, R. E. Horton; Secretary, H. N. Eaton. An executive committee was created consisting of the three officers together with such other members as the Chairman might select. Subsequently N. C. Grover and W. W. McLaughlin were added to the committee."

"The following is a slightly modified list of suggested fields of hydrology that was submitted with the ciroular letter. It is obviously illogical and overlapping in some respects and is to be regarded as suggestive rather than authoritative or final. Suggested fields of hydrology to be covered by permanent committees of the Section of Hydrology

(1) Distribution and intensity of precipitation

(2) Hydrology of snow (snow-surveys, evaporation of snow, melting of snow and its effects, prediction of stream-flow from snow-surveys)

(3) Hydrology of glaciers

(4) Evaporation from free water-surfaces and the fluctuation bf lakes

(5) Transpiration and evaporation from soil (including their relation to ground­water levels and stream-flow) (

(6) Soil-moistur© (including frost-action and the dynamics of soil-moisture in land-slides, mud-flows, and subsidences)

(7) Absorption of rain,snow, and stream-waters, and the resulting fluctuations of the water-table

(8) Methods of measuring the flow of streams

(9) Runoff and its interpretation and prediction (including low stages produced by droughts)

(10) Floods and their expectancy

(11) Movement of water in the zone of saturation (

12) Hydrology of artesian basins

(13) Relation of fresh surface-waters and ground-waters to salt-waters

(14) Hydrology of limestone terranes

(15) Hydrology of hot springs, hydrologic work in connection with volcanology, and the hydrology of volcanic terranes

(16) Quantitative methods in ground-water hydrology

(17) Laboratory work in hydrology

(18) Hydrologic work in connection with the study of metalliferous deposits

(19) Hydrologic work In connection with petroleum investigations

(20) Dynamics of rivers, and their work in erosion, transportation, and deposition

(21) Dynamics of rain- and surface-waters in soil-erosion, transportation, and de­position

(22) Dynamics of waves and currents along shore-lines

(23) Chemical character and chemical work of surface- and ground-waters

(24) Biology of surface- and ground-waters

(25) Historical and prehistorical hydrology

(26) Bibliography of hydrology"

The business of the Hydrology section and some scientific articles were published in the EOS Transactions of the AGU. In 1965 the Section founded the journal Water Resources Research, initially published by AGU and then by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of AGU.

The AGU Hydrology Section maintains a "Virtual Hydrologist Project" site with biographies and complete bibliographies of some celebrated hydrologists [1]. A set of video interviews with past hydrologists produced by the Section can also be found here

Reference Material

Meinzer, O E, 1931, Formation of the section of hydrology of the American Geophysical Union, EOS Trans. AGU, Volume12, Issue1, Pages 227-229


AGU Hydrology Section Pages