What do hydrologists do?

A hydrologist's activities typically include:

Hydrometric and water quality measurement:

  • Maintaining monitoring networks to record river flows, water levels in rivers, lakes and groundwater;
  • Rainfall and other climate variables;
  • Taking water samples and conducting analysis for chemical properties; Working with biologists and ecologists to monitor river and lake conditions.

Process studies:

  • Investigating patterns of rainfall and other forms of precipitation;
  • The study of ice, snow and glaciers; modelling river flow processes including water quality, sediment movements and channel shapes;
  • Investigating water in the biosphere at all scales, including soil and water interactions.


  • The study of drought and floods, including statistical studies of drought and flood risks;
  • Modelling complex water resource and water supply systems for planning and operation;
  • Investigating the causes of flooding, and possible solutions to flooding problems;
  • Undertaking water quality and other environmental management studies;
  • Assessing water use (e.g. in agriculture and forestry);
  • Examining the impact of climate change on water resources and flooding patterns;
  • Assessing the consequences of changes in land use;
  • Developing models of hydrological processes and systems;
  • Considering environmental impacts on water bodies and the effect of engineering works to manage water (e.g. dams).