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Hydrologic Sciences

Hydrologic Science is the study of the occurrence, distribution, circulation, and behavior of water in the environment of earth. It includes measurement and analysis of water phenomena in the subsurface, on the surface, and in the atmosphere for the purpose of understanding and addressing problems that affect sustainability of both water quantity and water quality.

Contemporary hydrologic problems include more efficient use and development of groundwater and surface water resources, pollution of subsurface and surface waters from such sources as urban runoff, leaky underground storage tanks, and agricultural drainage; water quality criteria for drinking water and for fish and aquatic life; acidic precipitation and its impact on the environment, and the role of water in natural disasters such as flooding, landslides, and land subsistence. Other contemporary concerns include artificial recharge of groundwater, remote sensing for water resources, risk analysis in the operation of surface water reservoirs, and hydrologic prediction under uncertainty. The resolution of these problems demand hydrologic scientists with the comprehensive, multi-disciplinary education embodied in this program.

The Graduate Group of Hydrologic Science is an interdisciplinary program offering M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Course work is available from many programs, including Hydrologic Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Geology, and Soil Science. Education in the group broadens the skills and knowledge of the physical science or engineering student interested in the occurrence, distribution, circulation and properties of water on earth. Because of water's ubiquity and importance to physical, chemical and biological processes, hydrologic science involve the geologic, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, as well as engineering and other applied physical sciences. Basic to the program are core courses in fluid dynamics, hydrologic phenomena, hydrobiology, hydrochemistry, hydrologic techniques, and hydrologic policy. The program has degree options in Hydrobiology, Hydrogeochemistry and Hydrology. The Hydrology option includes specializations in subsurface hydrology (including hydrogeology and vadose-zone hydrology), surface hydrology, irrigation and drainage, and water resources management.

Preparation. Applicants to the program are expected to have completed or to be completing an undergraduate degree in environmental or physical sciences, mathematics, or engineering. Undergraduate study must include one year each of calculus, of physics with calculus, and of chemistry. Additional courses in applied statistics, computer programming, and geology are recommended.

Specialization. Each student will pursue an individual program of advanced study under the direction of a group of faculty members with similar interests but diverse backgrounds. Course work in addition to the above is typically taken in the most appropriate departments.

For more info regarding the program and admission requirements, please contact Angie Nguyen, Student Affairs Officer, at

Graduate Group Chair. Greg Pasternack (530-752-9243,

Graduate Adviser.
Subsurface hydrology or water quality - Carlos Puente (530-752-0689,,
Critical zone hydrology or water resources - Thomas Harter (530-752-2709,
Earth surface processes and landforms or physical hydrology - Samuel Sandoval (530-754-9646,

Graduate Admissions Adviser. Mark Grismer (530-752-3243,