WETLAND HYDROLOGY SESSION INTRODUCTION

 

Michael G. Waldon

Center for Louisiana Inland Water Studies

University of Southwestern Louisiana

P.O. Box 42291, Lafayette, Louisiana 70504-2291

 

Understanding the distribution and circulation of water is crucial to the understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological phenomena which occur in wetlands. Wetland hydrology is Therefore not only a scientific specialty in its own right, but also provides an integral part of the foundation for all other areas of wetland science. Recent technological advances have increased our ability to monitor and model wetland hydrological processes. Additionally, these technological advances have also redirected much of the focus of wetland hydrological, research. Advances in both computer hardware and software, for example, have made possible many studies which would have been financially and technically unfeasible only a decade ago.

 

This trend in increasing availability and capability for hydrological data gathering and assessment will likely continue throughout the next decade. Contemporary researchers can make use of inexpensive computer systems for the management of massive databases, geographic information systems (GIS), and satellite imagery. Today, researchers can routinely develop and apply complex computer models, obtain real-time data from remote study sites, and utilize satellite based global positioning systems (GPS) to obtain site coordinates and elevation. Advances in hydrological instrumentation and measurement techniques have also led to significant advancements in hydrological monitoring capabilities.

 

These advances in the technology supporting our research have also illuminated deficiencies in our understanding, and redirected our inquiries. For example, the development of more detailed and quantitative water budgets and hydrological models have demonstrated the critical need for more accurate models of evapotranspiration, runoff, and infiltration. More detailed and localized observations of water movements demonstrate the effects of smaller scale heterogeneities on the larger scale properties of wetlands, and illuminate the inadequacies of simplistic conceptual models of wetland hydrology.

 

The papers presented in this, as well as the other sessions of this conference, not only document advances in wetland hydrology, but also illustrate a changing focus and perspective for wetland hydrological investigations.

 

 

 

Proceedings of the 13th Annual SWS Conference, p. 633, Society of Wetland Scientists, New Orleans, Louisiana, June 1992