The Global River Discharge Database (RivDIS v1.0) -
Preface


The contents of this document and related digital archive represent the first step in what is hoped to be a continually-evolving compilation of river discharge information. The first version of the Global River Discharge Database (RivDIS v1.0) that is presented here is part of the larger Global Hydrological Archive and Analysis System (GHAAS) currently under development at the University of New Hampshire. The GHAAS has been formulated to treat hydrological information in a geographically-referenced manner. It houses distributed thematic and quantitative information, simulated river networks, and station-based monitoring data. As part of its observational holdings are discharges from various national and international archives.

An important part of the GHAAS holdings is derived from UNESCO river archives, dating back to the inception of the International Hydrological Decade (1965-74) established during the 13th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO. The IHD as well as the follow-on International Hydrological Programme (IHP) within UNESCO's Science Division were created to promote scientific hydrology and the improved use of the water resources, increasingly made scarce in the face of expanding population, industrialization, and agriculture. A central goal of the IHP is to disseminate information to the international hydrological community. To this end, the IHP publishes the "Studies and Reports in Hydrology" and "Technical Documents in Hydrology" series, co-sponsors workshops and workshop reports, supports several International Association of Hydrological Sciences publication activities, and provides executive position papers intended for policy-makers addressing key water-related issues.

The series of publications entitled "The Discharge of Selected Rivers of the World" commenced in 1969 and provided, in book form, data through 1984. The series has served as an important source of information on approximately 1000 stations, providing support for national, regional, and even global-scale scientific and engineering studies. Among its most important byproducts has been the facilitation of information exchange and collaboration among the hydrology and water resources communities. In an age of increasing awareness of the dimensions of anthropogenic impacts on water availability and water pollution, the baseline information provided by this publication series provides precise and in many cases long-term data upon which to judge the ongoing effects of global change.

This publication is a contribution to IHP - V Theme 1: "Global Hydrologic and Geochemical Processes" and has been initiated to support ongoing activities that explore the broad issue of global change and the water cycle. The specific purpose of this compilation is to provide discharge data from the original UNESCO publication series in a digital format that can be easily acquired and analyzed by researchers and planners in the water sciences community. In addition to the original "Selected Discharges" books, additional information was compiled by the Global Runoff Data Center in Koblenz (GERMANY) and made available through the US National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado (USA). We have relied on these sources and our own transcriptions of the original book series to encode data for 949 discharge monitoring stations, carrying forward the observational record to the early 1990's. The resulting database we refer to as RivDIS v1.0.

To facilitate use of this information, we provide to interested parties the data in an electronic format. The data can be obtained from a diskette or CD-ROM bearing the contents of this published compendium. For those with access to the Internet, the data sets will soon be available for pre-visualization and downloading from a World Wide Web site at the University of New Hampshire that describes the larger Global Hydrological Archive and Analysis System which contains RivDIS v1.0. Interested parties are urged to contact the authors at: Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space/ Morse Hall/ University of New Hampshire/ Durham NH 03824 (USA).

We view this compilation as a service to the broader hydrological community but only through collective quality control can its ultimate utility be ensured. Although we have endeavored to check and re-check the entries within our database, errors in the 225 000 individual entries are inevitable. We therefore request that users of this information notify us of any irregularities they might discover so that we may correct and update the database accordingly.

We wish to acknowledge the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Mission to Planet Earth), National Science Foundation / Environmental Protection Agency (Water and Watersheds Program), and Department of Energy (Computer Hardware, Advanced Mathematics, and Model Physics [CHAMMP] Program) for support in producing this volume. We also would like to recognize the significant contributions of Annette Schloss and several dedicated work / study students at the University of New Hampshire for valuable assistance in data assembly and data entry.

Durham, NH

May 1996