Is hydrology difficult why or why not

Hydrology and citizen science

Hydrology & hydrological data

Without water (Greek hydro) no life. Because water is so important, hydrologists are tasked with researching the connections that are needed to make decisions in water management. To develop models for flood and drought forecasts, for example, measurement data is required. These should show as precisely as possible when and where there is how much water. However, water data is often in short supply, as installing and maintaining sensors, for example, is time-consuming and expensive. Globally, the amount of officially collected hydrological and meteorological data is decreasing.

The good news is that there are new ways to measure environmental data. For example, satellite images can be used for a large number of questions. But despite everything, important hydrological variables such as the amount of water in a river or the moisture of the soil are still difficult to observe with good spatial and temporal resolution. This is where Citizen Science comes into play.

Citizen Science - doing science together

The Oxford Dictionary defines Citizen Science as scientific work carried out by citizens, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional researchers and scientific institutions. In German, Citizen Science is also called Citizen Science.

Citizen Scientists are members of the public who are involved in a Citizen Science project. Citizen scientists not only collect valuable data, but can also raise society's awareness of environmental issues, in this case water.


The collection of environmental data with the help of citizen scientists is not a new concept. Bird censuses have been conducted every Christmas in the United States since 1900. These help to determine the bird population. The Audubon Christmas Bird Census is the longest running citizen science project in the world. But there are other examples as well: The Swedish meteorologist Tor Bergeron asked people to measure the depth of snow (1949) and rain (1960). Collecting citizen science data has become much easier today thanks to smartphones. Communication between citizen scientists and researchers is also very easy thanks to social media.

10 principles of Citizen Science

The 10 principles of Citizen Science summarize the Citizen Science concept very well. They were taken from the following book chapter:

Robinson L.D., Cawthray, J.L., West, S.E., Bonn, A., & Ansine, J. (2018). Ten principles of citizen science. In S. Hecker, M. Haklay, A. Bowser, Z. Makuch, J. Vogel, & A. Bonn. Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy. London, UCL Press. 1-23.

  1. Citizen science projects actively involve citizens in scientific endeavors that lead to new knowledge and understanding.
  2. Citizen Science projects lead to real scientific results.
  3. All participants benefit from their participation, both the institutionally employed scientists and those involved on a voluntary basis.
  4. If they wish, citizen scientists can take part in various phases in the scientific process.
  5. Citizen scientists receive feedback from the project.
  6. Citizen Science is a research approach that, like others, has limitations and assumptions that must be taken into account and controlled.
  7. The data and metadata from Citizen Science projects are made publicly available and the results are published in an open-access format as far as possible.
  8. Citizen scientists are thanked and appreciated in the project results and publications.
  9. The evaluation of citizen science programs is based on the scientific results, the quality of the data, the added value for those involved and the broader social impact.
  10. In all activities, the project managers take into account legal and ethical aspects relating to copyrights, rights of private property, data logs, confidentiality, responsibility or effects on the environment.