Articles | Volume 14, issue 2
Special issue:
Opinion article
23 Feb 2010
Opinion article |  | 23 Feb 2010

HESS Opinions On the use of laboratory experimentation: "Hydrologists, bring out shovels and garden hoses and hit the dirt"

M. G. Kleinhans, M. F. P. Bierkens, and M. van der Perk

Abstract. From an outsider's perspective, hydrology combines field work with modelling, but mostly ignores the potential for gaining understanding and conceiving new hypotheses from controlled laboratory experiments. Sivapalan (2009) pleaded for a question- and hypothesis-driven hydrology where data analysis and top-down modelling approaches lead to general explanations and understanding of general trends and patterns. We discuss why and how such understanding is gained very effectively from controlled experimentation in comparison to field work and modelling. We argue that many major issues in hydrology are open to experimental investigations. Though experiments may have scale problems, these are of similar gravity as the well-known problems of fieldwork and modelling and have not impeded spectacular progress through experimentation in other geosciences.

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