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Keywords:

  • history of geophysics;
  • hydrologic cycle;
  • measurement systems;
  • water budget

[1] I address a range of topics that provide the sociopolitical-technological setting for my professional life. I discuss some influential features of post–World War II world geopolitics, landmark technological developments of that era, and the resulting follow-up technologies that have made it possible to approach various problems in hydrology and water resources. I next address societal needs that have driven developments in hydrology and water resources engineering and follow with a discussion of the modern foundations of our science and what I think are the principal issues in hydrology. I pose three community challenges that when accomplished should advance hydrologic science: data network needs for improving the water budgets at all scales, characterizing subsurface water flow paths, and the information archiving and mining needs from instruments that will generate substantially richer data detail than have been used for most hydrologic work to the present. I then discuss several hydrologic and water resource risk-based decision issues that matter to society to illustrate how such risks have been addressed successfully in the past. I conclude with a long-term community “grand challenge,” the coupled modeling of the ocean-atmosphere-landform hydrologic cycle for the purpose of long–lead time hydrologic prediction.