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6 Principles of Hydrological Measurements

Part 1. Theory, Organization and Scale

  1. Andrew W Western,
  2. Rodger B Grayson,
  3. Justin F Costelloe

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa005

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Western, A. W., Grayson, R. B. and Costelloe, J. F. 2006. Principles of Hydrological Measurements. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 1:6.

Author Information

  1. The University of Melbourne, CRC for Catchment Hydrology and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Victoria, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


This article highlights several key considerations in a successful measurement programme. These are:

  • The need to have a clear set of objectives or hypotheses to be tested

  • An understanding of the temporal and spatial variability of the phenomena of interest.

  • An understanding of the characteristics of the instruments available for measurement, including errors.

  • Matching of the temporal and spatial characteristics of the measurement with those of the processes of interest.

  • Considering the trade-offs inherent in sampling including the number of measurements and accuracy.

  • Considering a range of practical issues related to setup in the field and the need to check and manage the data as it is collected.

Successful monitoring programs are well designed, well resourced, and analysis will occur during the monitoring program. Timely analysis allows an ongoing review of performance and appropriate modification, which is critical to success.

New and emerging sensor technologies, as well as the ever-increasing availability of remote sensing information, bode well for the future of hydrological measurement. The synthesis of “smart measurements” with theoretical developments and modeling will yield the greatest advances in the coming years.


  • hydrological measurements;
  • monitoring design;
  • hypothesis testing;
  • measurement scales;
  • monitoring scales