The Departments of Atmospheric Sciences and Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona have collaborated to offer the nation’s first graduate degree programs (MS, PhD) with a Major in Hydrometeorology. Faculty members in both departments advise students, provide research opportunities, and teach courses for these degree programs (refer to the Faculty List below for potential advisors).
The terrestrial water cycle includes the atmospheric component (water vapor, clouds, and precipitation), addressed by the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and the land component (surface and subsurface runoff, infiltration, evapotranspiration, snowmelt, river flow), addressed by the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources. Hydrometeorology plays a major role in weather and climate and strongly affects human activities.
Historically, the science and practice of hydrology has focused on land-related processes and has relied on prescribed atmospheric inputs (from observations or atmospheric model outputs, or through empirical estimates derived from conventional meteorological measurements). In other words, the land-generated feedbacks to the atmosphere have usually not been considered. In contrast, while the atmospheric sciences generate hydrologically-relevant forecasts, they tend to avoid dealing with the details of processes influencing feedbacks generated by the land surface.
Nature and Purpose of Program
The Major in Hydrometeorology provides the linkage of hydrology and atmospheric science. In establishing this linkage, it addresses the following questions:
- What is the science involved with the interface of water in the atmosphere and water on the ground?
- What are the ramifications for predictive capabilities when these processes are incorporated into coupled numerical weather and climate models?
- What are the new applications in water quality (and how are water quality issues linked to precipitation and related run off issues)?
- How is the full understanding of the hydrologic cycle from "white water" to "blue water" (from precipitation to streams to ocean to water vapor to precipitation) related to the advancements in prediction and related societal benefits that link back to the water quality issue?
The purpose of the UA Hydrometeorology Program is to become the first and premier Hydrometeorology program in the World. Our mission is to:
- Educate students by providing them with (1) a well-rounded background in the related fields of atmospheric, hydrologic and systems sciences, (2) the tools and methods for numerical modeling, prediction and data assimilation (surface hydrology, weather and climate), and (3) the sensors, data sources and data manipulation tools, including remote-sensing and geographic information systems (GIS)
- Partner with various national and international weather and climate forecasting agencies to identify critical hydrometeorological knowledge gaps, to support, encourage, and facilitate research in multidisciplinary hydrometeorological science, and to work towards improved forecasts and forecast support (particularly over arid and semiarid regions, such as the Western US), and
- Serve the hydrometeorological science and operational communities by coordinating meetings and workshops seeking to build consensus related to hydrometeorological science and to assist in the transfer of advances in understanding into the decision-making arena.