Hydrology, applied

Rivers, aquifers and other wet things that can flood your house

Refugees from Brazil’s Grande Seca drought of 1878

TBD: Ground water hydrology, surface water hydrology, coastal water hydrology… UCSB Climate hazards data.




AFAICT the go-to applied reference for groundwater is Anderson, Woessner, and Hunt (2015).


MODFLOW is the USGS’s modular hydrologic model. MODFLOW is considered an international standard for simulating and predicting groundwater conditions and groundwater/surface-water interactions. MODFLOW 6 is presently the core MODFLOW version distributed by the USGS. The previous core version, MODFLOW-2005, is actively maintained and supported as well.


The FloPy package consists of a set of Python scripts to run MODFLOW, MT3D, SEAWAT and other MODFLOW-related groundwater programs. FloPy enables you to run all these programs with Python scripts.

But how do you install MODFLOW? It’s one of those US government software packages which is perfectly respectable and functional but some versions use a “classic”, which is to say, antiquated, mode of development. (I mean, it does date to 1988.) There are various versions which are incompatible with each other to some unexplained extent. These have version numbers like NWT, 2005 and 6, and variying degrees of modern convenience.

For example, MODFLOW-2005, a version of a… distinguished vintage, has no source code repository (not for us punters anyway), just giant (like, 400MB) zip files full of compiled Windows binaries with big chunks of fortran code alongside for compilation by the adventurous.

Thankfully, the community have made modflow pymake. The documentation was a little confusing (it seems to suggest I should use certain scripts that are not installed per default), but they all turn out to be one-liners. Here is how to install MODFLOW-NWT:

pip install git+https://github.com/modflowpy/pymake.git


import pymake

This gets you a version that runs on linux or macos.

Alternatively one can use docker files. Here are some miscellaneous docker files I am auditioning: lucasaugustomcc/modflow-nwt, flopymetascript, mintproject/modflow-2005 (the most popular one).

In the case of the more recent MODFLOW 6 it can be installed via conda:

conda install -c conda-forge modflow6

MODFLOW 6 has a source code repository and other trappings of modernity. It compiles and runs everywhere etc, but it does not implement all the features of historical MODFLOW versions, or so I am told.

Geostats Framework

GeoStat Framework:

This Framework was created within the PhD project of Sebastian Müller at the Computational Hydrosystems Department at the UFZ Leipzig.

AnaFlow Quickstart

AnaFlow provides several analytical and semi-analytical solutions for the groundwater-flow equation.


WellTestPy is a python-package for handling well based field campaigns. You can easily estimate parameters of aquifer-heterogeneity from pumping test data.


Swift – A shallow water based integrated flood tool for urban flood inundation and adaptation

Swift is a toolkit for the end-to-end processing, simulation and analysis of floods. Users can design custom workflows by building on Swift’s computational shallow water solver and incorporating various input, processing and visualisation components, each tailored for flood modelling. The Swift toolkit provides hydrodynamic and coupled hydraulic modelling capability with analysis tools for mitigation options. Swift can be used for both catchment and coastal flood modelling, including sea level rise, for present and future flooding. The capabilities of Swift have been used in a number of flood mitigation projects for cities across Australia.


A solver for surface water equations, targeting approximately the same problems as Swift, although possibly with fewer GPU accelerations.


Try Pangeo Hydrology Dataset Catalog, which lists some hydrology-focussed spatial data. Locally I might try Groundwater Use by Geoscience Australia


Gravity tomography at NASA! GRACE


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