Whither field hydrology? The need for discovery science and outrageous hydrological hypotheses

T. P. Burt, J. J. McDonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Field hydrology is on the decline. Meanwhile, the need for new field-derived insight into the age, origin and pathway of water in the headwaters, where most runoff is generated, is more needed than ever. Water Resources Research (WRR) has included some of the most influential papers in field-based runoff process understanding, particularly in the formative years when the knowledge base was developing rapidly. Here we take advantage of this 50th anniversary of the journal to highlight a few of these important field-based papers and show how field scientists have posed strong and sometimes outrageous hypotheses-approaches so needed in an era of largely model-only research. We chronicle the decline in field work and note that it is not only the quantity of field work that is diminishing but its character is changing too: from discovery science to data collection for model parameterization. While the latter is a necessary activity, the loss of the former is a major concern if we are to advance the science of watershed hydrology. We outline a vision for field research to seek new fundamental understanding, new mechanistic explanations of how watershed systems work, particularly outside the regions of traditional focus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5919-5928
Number of pages10
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume51
Issue number8
Early online date13 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Keywords

  • HUMID HEADWATER CATCHMENTS
  • STORM RUNOFF GENERATION
  • DEBATES-THE FUTURE
  • STREAMFLOW GENERATION
  • UNCHANNELED CATCHMENT
  • SUBSURFACE STORMFLOW
  • SOLUTE TRANSPORT
  • COMMON PATH
  • WATER
  • TRANSPIRATION

Cite this

Whither field hydrology? The need for discovery science and outrageous hydrological hypotheses. / Burt, T. P.; McDonnell, J. J.

In: Water Resources Research, Vol. 51, No. 8, 08.2015, p. 5919-5928.

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

@article{8951fb3f03c34511875788e470f651d3,
title = "Whither field hydrology? The need for discovery science and outrageous hydrological hypotheses",
abstract = "Field hydrology is on the decline. Meanwhile, the need for new field-derived insight into the age, origin and pathway of water in the headwaters, where most runoff is generated, is more needed than ever. Water Resources Research (WRR) has included some of the most influential papers in field-based runoff process understanding, particularly in the formative years when the knowledge base was developing rapidly. Here we take advantage of this 50th anniversary of the journal to highlight a few of these important field-based papers and show how field scientists have posed strong and sometimes outrageous hypotheses-approaches so needed in an era of largely model-only research. We chronicle the decline in field work and note that it is not only the quantity of field work that is diminishing but its character is changing too: from discovery science to data collection for model parameterization. While the latter is a necessary activity, the loss of the former is a major concern if we are to advance the science of watershed hydrology. We outline a vision for field research to seek new fundamental understanding, new mechanistic explanations of how watershed systems work, particularly outside the regions of traditional focus.",
keywords = "HUMID HEADWATER CATCHMENTS, STORM RUNOFF GENERATION, DEBATES-THE FUTURE, STREAMFLOW GENERATION, UNCHANNELED CATCHMENT, SUBSURFACE STORMFLOW, SOLUTE TRANSPORT, COMMON PATH, WATER, TRANSPIRATION",
author = "Burt, {T. P.} and McDonnell, {J. J.}",
note = "Acknowledgments We thank Anna Coles for production of Figure 1 and Kim Janzen for production of Figure 2. We thank Chris Gabrielli, Kim Janzen, Jay Frentress, Chris Spence, Jim Buttle, Jim McNamara and three anonymous reviewers for their critiques of an earlier draft of this paper. Tom Dunne and Chris Soulsby are also thanked for their suggestions along the way. Finally, we apologize to all our field colleagues whose work we are not able to cite here. There are, of course, many great field programs going on around the world: we celebrate those efforts whilst we lament the decline in field hydrology.",
year = "2015",
month = "8",
doi = "10.1002/2014WR016839",
language = "English",
volume = "51",
pages = "5919--5928",
journal = "Water Resources Research",
issn = "0043-1397",
publisher = "American Geophysical Union",
number = "8",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Whither field hydrology? The need for discovery science and outrageous hydrological hypotheses

AU - Burt, T. P.

AU - McDonnell, J. J.

N1 - Acknowledgments We thank Anna Coles for production of Figure 1 and Kim Janzen for production of Figure 2. We thank Chris Gabrielli, Kim Janzen, Jay Frentress, Chris Spence, Jim Buttle, Jim McNamara and three anonymous reviewers for their critiques of an earlier draft of this paper. Tom Dunne and Chris Soulsby are also thanked for their suggestions along the way. Finally, we apologize to all our field colleagues whose work we are not able to cite here. There are, of course, many great field programs going on around the world: we celebrate those efforts whilst we lament the decline in field hydrology.

PY - 2015/8

Y1 - 2015/8

N2 - Field hydrology is on the decline. Meanwhile, the need for new field-derived insight into the age, origin and pathway of water in the headwaters, where most runoff is generated, is more needed than ever. Water Resources Research (WRR) has included some of the most influential papers in field-based runoff process understanding, particularly in the formative years when the knowledge base was developing rapidly. Here we take advantage of this 50th anniversary of the journal to highlight a few of these important field-based papers and show how field scientists have posed strong and sometimes outrageous hypotheses-approaches so needed in an era of largely model-only research. We chronicle the decline in field work and note that it is not only the quantity of field work that is diminishing but its character is changing too: from discovery science to data collection for model parameterization. While the latter is a necessary activity, the loss of the former is a major concern if we are to advance the science of watershed hydrology. We outline a vision for field research to seek new fundamental understanding, new mechanistic explanations of how watershed systems work, particularly outside the regions of traditional focus.

AB - Field hydrology is on the decline. Meanwhile, the need for new field-derived insight into the age, origin and pathway of water in the headwaters, where most runoff is generated, is more needed than ever. Water Resources Research (WRR) has included some of the most influential papers in field-based runoff process understanding, particularly in the formative years when the knowledge base was developing rapidly. Here we take advantage of this 50th anniversary of the journal to highlight a few of these important field-based papers and show how field scientists have posed strong and sometimes outrageous hypotheses-approaches so needed in an era of largely model-only research. We chronicle the decline in field work and note that it is not only the quantity of field work that is diminishing but its character is changing too: from discovery science to data collection for model parameterization. While the latter is a necessary activity, the loss of the former is a major concern if we are to advance the science of watershed hydrology. We outline a vision for field research to seek new fundamental understanding, new mechanistic explanations of how watershed systems work, particularly outside the regions of traditional focus.

KW - HUMID HEADWATER CATCHMENTS

KW - STORM RUNOFF GENERATION

KW - DEBATES-THE FUTURE

KW - STREAMFLOW GENERATION

KW - UNCHANNELED CATCHMENT

KW - SUBSURFACE STORMFLOW

KW - SOLUTE TRANSPORT

KW - COMMON PATH

KW - WATER

KW - TRANSPIRATION

U2 - 10.1002/2014WR016839

DO - 10.1002/2014WR016839

M3 - Literature review

VL - 51

SP - 5919

EP - 5928

JO - Water Resources Research

JF - Water Resources Research

SN - 0043-1397

IS - 8

ER -