Monday, January 27, 2014

Episode 198 (1-27-14): Hydrologists Sing and Study "Where Does the Water Go?"

Click to listen to episode (2:44)


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of January 27, 2014.

This week, we feature music about the mysteries of hydrology, in a light-hearted song by two Virginia Tech graduate students and a visiting scholar from Italy.  Have a listen for about 35 seconds.


You’ve been listening to part of “Where Does the Water Go,” performed by J.P. Gannon, Paolo Benettin, and Kris Brown.  The term “hydrology” refers to the location and movement of the earth’s water, as well as to the scientific study of those topics.  Hydrologists seek to describe in detail the water cycle, also called the hydrologic cycle.  To do so, they concentrate on pathways of water movement, the timing of that movement, and storage of water at different locations for various amounts of time.  One key part of this work is understanding how surface waters— lakes, streams, and rivers—are connected to groundwater.  For example, our singers’ plaintive cries of “macropores” refer to spaces in soil and sediments that influence groundwater flow, including its movement into and out of streams.  Because of this and many other factors, hydrology’s complicated, and hydrologists have to work hard to learn how, when, and where does the water go.  Thanks to Virginia Tech’s musical hydrologists for permission to use this week’s song.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 1/27/14]

The science of hydrology seeks to understand and describe water location and movement in dry and wet times.  Top photo: Dry River at Lilly in Rockingham County, Va., Nov. 25, 2007; bottom photo: the same stream and view on December 30, 2007.

Acknowledgments: This week’s song lyrics were written by Virginia Tech graduate student J.P. Gannon and visiting Italian scholar Paolo Benettin.  The audio excerpt was from a November 22, 2013, video recording of them and Virginia Tech graduate student Kris Brown; used with permission.  Thanks to Kevin McGuire, Virginia Water Resources Research Center, for information on the fundamentals of hydrology.

Sources: Information about hydrology and current research issues in the science was taken from the following sources:
*Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, “Introduction to Hydrology,” online at,4561,7-135-3313_3684_3724-9352--,00.html;
*U.S. Geological Survey, “Science in Your Watershed/General Introduction and Hydrologic Definitions,” online at;
*University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences, “Research/Hydrology,” online at;
*Virginia Tech Watershed Hydrology Lab, online at

For a Virginia Water Radio episode on the water (or hydrologic) cycle, please click on this link: Episode 191 (Week of 12-9-13), “The Water Cycle.”

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