The mission of hydrometeorology is to improve understanding of the coupling of climatic and hydrologic subsystems at different time and spatial scales. One aspect of that mission is to measure the water evaporating from the soil and transpiring from green vegetation in the collective process of evapotranspiration in order to predict and evaluate water budgets. Evapotranspiration critically affects the hydrologic balance of the earth's surface, but the interface between the lower atmosphere and the earth's surface is complicated. Plants are geometrically complex, leaf stomata exert physiological control over the release of water vapor in response to a wide range of environmental and biological factors, and the lower atmosphere is aerodynamically turbulent, largely because of the roughness of the underlying vegetation. Hydrometeorologists therefore employ a wide array of approaches to characterize surface/air exchange, including computer modeling, and field measurements using sophisticated micrometeorological instrumentation.
Exchanges of moisture and heat between the atmosphere and the earth's surface also fundamentally affect the dynamics and thermodynamics of the climate system. Recent evidence of the influence of human activity on the climate system has led to increased research attention on the hydrologic cycle as an important focus for the study of climate change.
Faculty: Duffy, P.B.; Paw U, K.T.; Snyder, R.L.