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ESRM 426 / SEFS 525. Wildland Hydrology Course Objectives. This course is designed to give you a basic understanding of : the hydrologic cycle especially in wildland watersheds management effects on components of the hydrologic cycle

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esrm 426 sefs 525

ESRM 426 / SEFS 525

Wildland Hydrology

course objectives
Course Objectives
  • This course is designed to give you a basic understanding of:
  • the hydrologic cycle especially in wildland watersheds
  • management effects on components of the hydrologic cycle
  • Assignments are designed to give you practical knowledge about how to do routine hydrologic analyses and design
  • Students will perform hydrologic measurements in the field and use their data to understand and interpret the hydrologic cycle. 
  • By the end of the course, students will be able to independently
  • conduct basic hydrologic research
  • compute basic watershed water balances
  • locate hydrological data on the web
course outcomes
Course Outcomes
  • How to do unit conversions for hydrologic analysis, especially with
  •    respect to depth, area, volume relationships
  • Methods on filling in missing precipitation data and changing point
  • data to areal data
  • How to measure interception and throughfall components of the
  • hydrologic cycle
  • How to measure infiltration rates
  • Understanding how soil moisture varies in space and time
  • How to compute soil moisture
  • Understanding basic ground water principles
  • Understanding how precipitation, soil moisture, groundwater and stream flow are related
  • How to measure stream velocity and discharge using different methods
  • How to compute return periods for hydrologic events and compute risk
  • How and when to use the Rational Formula and the SCS Curve Number method for computing runoff
  • Awareness of common errors in hydrologic data collection and how to
  • account for them.
class organization
Class organization
  • Arboretum is our watershed/laboratory
  • Teams will collect data weekly in the field
  • Collected data MUST entered to google doc no later than Friday 4:30pm following the lab
  • Good data recording skills are critical for good science
  • For any data turned in late or in the wrong format, the entire team will lose 5% on the following homework
class organization1
Class organization
  • Everyone
    • Thursday field trips to UW Arboretum
    • Homework due at beginning of class Thursdays
  • SEFS 525 graduate students
    • Paper reviews due Tuesday at beginning of class
weekly arboretum measurements
Weekly Arboretum Measurements
  • Precipitation
  • Throughfall
  • Soil Moisture
  • Stream discharge (3 locations)
  • Water levels in ponds, piezometers and streams
  • Water quality
field work responsibilities for students
Field Work Responsibilities for Students
  • Transportation
  • Good field notes and measurements
  • Data review and entering to
  • Helping others when done to facilitate overall project
  • Equipment gathering
  • Equipment return and clean-up!
class homework
Class Homework
  • Weekly homeworks are quantitative
    • Need arithmetic, algebra and some trigonometry
  • Homework must be legible
  • Show your work!
  • Answers should be highlighted and must have correct units
  • Weekly homeworks will be a combination of problems and lab/field work.
  • Sometimes you need to make assumptions
    • Be sure to state those in your homework
homework hints
Homework Hints
  • Think before you do
  • Understand what you are doing
  • Don’t focus on getting an answer in a hurry
  • Pay close attention to units
  • Read the book
Objectives: Weeks 1 and 2
  • Learn what hydrology is
  • Learn why water is important and unique
  • Learn how water is distributed globally and nationally
  • Understand why watersheds are important
  • Identify the components of the hydrologic cycle
  • Identify the various agencies that deal with water
  • Learn how to format homework
  • Learn how to recognize significant digits in calculations
  • Learn how to do unit conversions
  • Learn about precipitation
watersheds and hydrology
Watersheds and Hydrology

What’s Water Got to Do with It?

  • More water moves through ecosystems than any other material
  • The materials that it carries and deposits and the energy that it expends are major drivers in shaping the contour of the land and the habitat availability/suitability for organisms.
  • Water’s unique properties are the basis for life
what makes water so unique
What makes water so unique?

Water is extraordinarily anomalous

This web site lists 63 anomalies

Let’s look at some of the better known properties of water

what makes water so unique2
What makes water so unique?
  • Universal solvent – dissolves more substances than any other liquid
    • Polarity

Mickey Mouse

what makes water so unique3
What makes water so unique?
  • Water is the only natural substance that is found in all three states -- liquid, solid (ice), and gas (steam) -- at the temperatures normally found on Earth
  • Water has a high specific heat index.
    • Can absorb a lot of heat before it begins to get hot.
      • This is why water is valuable to industries and in your car's radiator as a coolant.
      • The high specific heat index of water also helps regulate the rate at which air changes temperature, which is why the temperature change between seasons is gradual rather than sudden near the oceans.
what makes water so unique4
What makes water so unique?
  • Pure liquid water has neutral pH

Coke and Pepsi 2.5

what makes water so unique5
What makes water so unique?
  • Very High Surface Tension
  • Solid state is less dense than liquid state
    • Ice floats

In other words, water is sticky and elastic, and tends to clump together in drops rather than spread out in a thin film. Surface tension is responsible for capillary action, which allows water (and its dissolved substances) to move through the roots of plants and through the tiny blood vessels in our bodies.

what is hydrology
What is hydrology?
  • Study of water
    • Transport of water through the air, over the ground surface, through the strata of the earth
  • Interested in amount, timing, distribution, form, quality
  • Quantitative earth science
    • Foresters
    • Geologists
    • Engineers
earth s water
Earth’s Water

Hydrologic Cycle is a Closed System

Total Volume: 309,000 Units

One Unit (1) = 4475 Cubic Km

(1070 Cubic Miles)

100 Units = Yearly Evaporation From Oceans

300,000 Units = Present Volume All Oceans

global hydrologic cycle
Global Hydrologic Cycle

Evaporation From Oceans

Wind Moves Moisture Laden Clouds

Moisture Condenses & Falls


Falls Back Into Oceans

Produces Streamflow On Land

Enters Groundwater On Land

Re-enters atmosphere via evapotranspiration

Water Returns To Oceans

Q = P – ET

Runoff (water unit) = Precipitation unit – evapotranspiration unit

water distribution total storage
Water Distribution(Total Storage)

Geomax, P.C. Dr. Donald R. Reichmuth, President

Gleick, P. H., 1996: Water resources. In Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather, ed. by S. H. Schneider, Oxford University Press,

New York, vol. 2, pp.817-823. from

other ways to think about global water distribution
Other ways to think about global water distribution

1 gallon

All water

3/8 cup


2 tablespoons

surface water

water storage bins note use of depth for volume
Water storage bins(note use of depth for volume)

Depth = Volume / Area

  • Atmosphere ~ 25 mm
  • =total volume of water x % in storage/area of earth’s surface
  • Lithosphere ?
  • Biosphere ?
  • Hydrosphere
    • Lakes ?
    • Rivers ?
who measures water1
Who measures water?
  • Federal Government
who measures water2
Who measures water?
  • Federal government
    • Dept. of Energy
      • Bonneville Power Administration
    • Dept. of State
      • International Water and Boundary Commission
    • Dept of Interior
      • National Park Service
      • U.S. Geological Survey
      • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
      • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • Dept. of Agriculture
      • U.S. Forest Service
      • Agriculture Research Service
      • National Resource Conservation Service
who measures water3
Who measures water?
  • Federal government
    • Dept. of Defense
      • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

- Environmental Protection Agency

    • Tennessee Valley Authority
    • Dept. of Commerce
      • Nat. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
        • National Weather Service
        • National Climate Data Center
        • National Marine Fisheries Administration
who measures water4
Who measures water?
  • Tribes

Individual tribes

Northwest Indian Fisheries Council

who measures water5
Who measures water?
  • Federal Government
  • Tribes
  • State Government
who measures water6
Who measures water?

State Government - Washington

Dept. of Ecology

Dept. of Transportation

Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Dept. of Natural Resources

State Climatologist

who measures water7
Who measures water?
  • Federal Government
  • Tribes
  • State Government
  • Local Governments
  • NGOs
  • Schools
who measures water8
Who measures water?
  • Local Governments
    • Counties
    • Cities
    • Watershed Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs)
  • NGOs
    • The Nature Conservancy
    • The River Council
    • American Rivers
    • Local Watershed Groups
what does this list imply about water and watershed
What does this list imply about water and watershed?
  • Many jurisdictions
  • Overlapping authority
  • Information in disparate locations
  • Broad interests in water
Examples of where to locate national

data for watersheds and streams

  • Watershed data
    • EPA Surf your watershed
    • WA Dept of Ecology Water Resource Inventory Area
  • Climate data (national and international)

    • Washington State
Examples of where to locate national

data for watersheds and streams

  • Stream data- quantity and quality
    • USGS Water Resources Data
  • Soils data
  • Aquatic biologic indicators
how much and who
How much and who?
  • 12 percent of the world's population uses 85 percent of its water
  • Current estimates are 4500 cubic km of withdrawals per year
  • Existing, accessible, reliable supply = 4200 cubic km
  • With no improvements predicted gap of 2800 cubic km by 2030

where does our water go
Where does our water go?
  • On a global basis, approximately 70% of all available fresh water is used for agriculture.
    • Africa: 88%
    • Europe: 33%
    • USA: 39%

US water withdrawals 2000

2005 numbers

Public supply


Domestic supply

< 1%



< 1%





5 %



< 1%







< 1%


410 billion gallons per day 2005
Ground water withdrawals

This map shows total (fresh and saline) ground water withdrawals in the United States in 2000.

Total about 84,600 million gallons per day (Mgal/d)

~ 83,400 Mgal/d was fresh water

~ 1,260 Mgal/d was saline water (used almost exclusively for mining)

~ 68% of fresh ground-water withdrawals went toward crop irrigation

~ 19% was withdrawn by public supply agencies for delivery to homes and businesses.

This map is from U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1268,

Surface water withdrawals

total (fresh and saline) surface water withdrawals in the United States in 2000.

Total about 323,000 million gallons per day (Mgal/d).

~ 262,000 Mgal/d was fresh water

~ 68,200 Mgal/d was saline water (used almost exclusively for mining purposes).

~52% of fresh surface-water withdrawals was used in the electric power production

31% of fresh surface-water withdrawals went toward crop irrigation

This map is from U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1268

consumptive use
Consumptive Use
  • Consumptive use
    • That part of water withdrawn that is evaporated, transpired, incorporated into products or crops, consumed by humans or livestock, or otherwise removed from the immediate water environment. Also referred to as water consumed.

Per capita use (gal/day) of public water 1993

water use
Water Use
  • U.S. Per capita = > 85 gallons per person per day household use
    • How much do you use?
  • Freshwater a major global issue
    • > 1 billion people without access to clean water
  • Goal is to provide at least 50 l per capita per day
    • Compare 85 gallons to 13.5 gallons
water footprint
Water Footprint
  • Idea introduced in 2002 as a complement to the concept of Ecological Footprint
  • Related to the idea of virtual water which accounts for all the water used to produce a commodity or service
  • e.g., 140 liters 1 cup of coffee

16,000 liters 1 kg of beef in the

grocery store

virtual water water footprint
Virtual Water (water footprint)
  • Indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer.
  • Total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.

2700 liters

7000 liters for 1 pound

70 liters

1100 liters per pound

1800 liters per pound

400,000 to

1 million liters

virtual water exporters green and importers red
Virtual water exporters (green) and importers (red)

national water footprints
National Water Footprints
  • The water footprint of China is about 700 cubic meter per year per capita. Only about 7% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China.
  • Japan with a footprint of 1150 cubic meter per year per capita, has about 65% of its total water footprint outside the borders of the country.
  • The USA water footprint is 2500 cubic meter per year per capita.
significant figures
Significant figures
  • Standard rules for deciding how many decimal places are mathematically meaningful
  • Read document on handout section of web page
  • Very easy to overestimate numerical accuracy of calculations using excel
    • Will start taking points off for sloppiness after a few warnings
unit conversions
Unit conversions
  • Critically important skill for this class
  • Need to practice and be patient
  • Switch between English and S.I. units
  • Switch between depths and volumes
  • Can use conversion programs but come test time need to be able to understand and do with a calculator
how much wood can a woodchuck chuck in a year
How much wood can a woodchuck chuck in a year?
  • Assumptions
    • Chuck only during daylight
    • Chuck only 4 hours a day
    • Chuck only 9 months a year, not in winter
    • Assume months all have 31 days (being lazy-not normally acceptable)
    • Know that can only chuck 0.05 cords of wood per minute

0.05 cords x 60 minutes x 4 hours x 31 days x 9 months

minute hour day month year

0.05 cords x 60 minutes x 4 hours x 31 days x 9 months

minute hour daymonth year

= 3348 cords/year

Watershed A is 15 sq km, in November it rained 300 mm in November and average streamflow was 1 cms Watershed B is 100 sq km, in November is rained 200 mm and streamflow was 2 cmsWhich watershed had a higher runoff to rainfall ratio?

**cubic meter/second, i.e. the total volume that flowed is equivalent to an average discharge of 1 cms

What is the unit depth of flow in millimeters from a 200 acre watershed over 10 days with a streamflow of 2 cubic feet per second (cfs)?