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History of Hydrology
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  • Along the Indus in Pakistan, the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia, the Hwang Ho in China, and the Nile in Egypt that the first hydraulic engineers created canals, levees, dams, subsurface water conduits, and wells as early as 5000-6000 years ago.
  • The flow rates and yields of rivers were monitored by the Egyptians as early as 3800 years ago.
  • Rainfall measuring instruments were first utilized approximately 2400 years ago by Kautilya of India.
  • In 17th century, the modern scientific approach to study hydrologic cycle was initiated by the Frenchmen Pierre Perault and Edme Marriotte. By the 1670’s and 1680’s, they had published data and calculations that supported the contention that precipitation was the precursor to stream flow.
  • By 1700, Edmun Halley, an English scientist added to the work of Perault and Marriotte by estimating the quantity of water involved in the hydrologic cycle of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding lands.
  • The term “hydrology” arrived in its current meaning around 1750, and by 1800 the work of English physicist and chemist John Dalton solidified the current understanding of the global hydrologic cycle.
  • The first half of the twentieth century saw great advancements in the hydrological sciences starting with the addition of the Section of Scientific Hydrology in the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics in 1922.
  • Chanakya described the use of rain gauge in his book Arthashastra’. Apart from Indus valley, People of Nile valley also had the knowledge hydrology. A.K. Biswas in his book ‘History of Hydrology’ describes these developments in a great details. According to him: “It is interested to know that the river Nile was dammed in 3000 B.C to divert its water in near-by land. Around the same time a method was devised to record the fluctuation in the river Nile. A well-developed water supply and drainage system existed in Indus valley during 2750 B.C”. Varahamihisa’s ‘Drihatsamhita’ contains the discrimination of rain gauges, wind vane and procedures for prediction of rainfall.
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