Saturday, May 3, 2014

An overview of GIS Applications in Hydrology

“The application of GIS is limited only by the imagination of those who use it”.
Jack Dangermond, Esri Company

So, today,my glorious readers, I am going to tell you about GIS applications in hydrology! One of the most common applications is thehydrological application, and the opportunities here are enormous! To proceed, I´ll use the simple logic of narration: first, what things can be displayed, second, how they can be analyzed, and third, what conclusions and decisions can be made.

So, first, displaying. As a background for a hydrological map, an elevation model of the Earth’s surface is normally used, withground water reservoirs displayedin a certain way if needed. Then, since the occurrence of water in nature varies in time, such crucial dynamic parametersas incoming, outgoing and groundwater flows, precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff and other features are displayed. The possibilities for analysis are huge (or maybe I’m getting too enthusiastic), and include predicting flood-vulnerable or water-scarce areas, and finding out the possible impact of global warming on the regional hydrological situation. The conclusions and decisions come directly from the previous. We can decide what hydrological projects to implement to protect water bodies, and which projects should be reconsidered or cancelled. We could think globally but act locally and try to anticipate the effects of global warming already today. With the help of watershed GIS, we can create a risk management system for floods and droughts and develop a restoration plan if the worst has already happened.

There is a nice example of how one of the global warming problems was solved. One may safely say that with the fast growth of population in recent years, the needfor water fordomestic, industrial, and agricultural uses has increased, while resources are diminishing due to overuse and contamination. Thus, the establishment of good management of water resources has become one of the main challenges.This case comes from Australia 2008, where almost 10 years of drought had emphasized the need for better management of water resources. So, then, the following decision was made: a National Groundwater Data and Information Systemswas designed - a special computer system for making a proper analysis of groundwater movement - and a basis for this system was an ArcGIS map. In future, it helped to make an effective water management system.

GIS is multifunctional and almighty! In hydrology, GIS applications are especiallyhelpful for watershed-scale analyses, for instanceintegrated surface and modeling of underground water,also regional underground water modeling, and analyses of water quality. Locally, GIS can be useful for the selection of underground water development sites andplaces where depleted groundwater resources can be artificially replenished. These analyses must take into consideration a broad range of data, namely: use of land, property ownership, geology, types of soil, and distance from the source.

In addition, GIS has the very beneficial possibility to integrate data from various sources, namely: vegetation and land cover, boreholes and wells, satellite imagery and surface geology. And importantly, this information can be utilized immediately to design a clearer understanding of surface water movement and subsurface water movement and their interactions.

So,as the saying goes, "the one who controls the GIS, controls the world (in 2D and 3D forms, of course)!"

And here is one link, just for fun! Start typing the words and enjoy the magic!

Blog post by Vera Mazaikina

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