IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Advancing knowledge accumulation and synthesis in hydrology

Lina Stein and Thorsten Wagener
Lina Stein and Thorsten Wagener
  • Institute of Environmental Science and Geography, University Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany (lina.stein@uni-potsdam.de)

The number of publications in the field of Hydrology is rising at an almost exponential rate. In 2020, more than 25 000 articles were listed in Web of Science on the topic of Water Resources. This offers a wealth of knowledge for an improved understanding of the Earth System and Hydrology. However, it is increasingly difficult for hydrologists to keep aware of knowledge gains. How do we deal with this flood of information? Do we rely on pre-selection of papers based on publication date or journal impact factor? Do we specialise into increasingly narrow fields of knowledge?

These tendencies of a growing science can be detrimental to a broad hydrologic perspective as called for by the WMO Hydrologic Action Plan, the IAHS initiatives “Panta Rhei” and 23 UPH. Studying interacting processes is made increasingly difficult if we dissect our science into smaller and smaller parts to stay on top of the literature.

One approach to address this problem of literature explosion might be to extend article metadata to include hydrology-specific information that can facilitate knowledge search, accumulation and synthesis. Imagine one could easily find all studies done in a specific location/ climate/ land use thus allowing a full picture of the hydrology of that region/ climate/ land use. It is important for a science like hydrology, which is strongly depending on experience, that local knowledge is not “forgotten” in a mountain of publications but can easily be integrated into larger understanding.

The leads to the question, what meta-information would be most useful in knowledge synthesis? Study location? Spatial and/or temporal scale? Models used? We are interested to hear further suggestions and needs by the community. Here, we would like to (re-)start the discussion on hydrologically-relevant metadata enrichment. With the recent advancement in text mining scholarly literature, it is critical to have this discussion now or miss out on opportunities in this field.

A science like hydrology strongly depends on experiences we gain and which we largely share through the articles we publish. Knowledge accumulation in our science is hindered if this exchange of knowledge becomes ineffective. We are afraid it already has!

How to cite: Stein, L. and Wagener, T.: Advancing knowledge accumulation and synthesis in hydrology, IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-219, https://doi.org/10.5194/iahs2022-219, 2022.