The science of hydrology deals with the mechanical, physical and chemical properties of water existing in nature in various forms. These are extraordinarily diverse, depending on the environment (oceans, glaciers, rivers, lakes, atmosphere).

An essential element linking these environments is the hydrological cycle involving processes such as evaporation, precipitation, transpiration of plants, infiltration in soil or storage in aquifers.

Apart from the regular variations due for example to the daily cycle or to the seasons, some of these phenomena also present a marked variability, sometimes occurring in the form of extreme catastrophic events (e.g. floods). This is why, in recent decades, there has been a growing effort to formalize hydrological processes using mathematical models, often of a probabilistic nature, with the aim to organize information from available observations, to manage resources and to predict future evolution.

The RMI is active in the field of hydrometeorology - which studies the link between meteorology and hydrology - and in the wider field of the study of exchanges of matter (e.g. water and CO2) and energy (e.g. associated with the evaporation process) between the atmosphere, the Earth surface and the soil. These activities exploit observations (in-situ and by remote sensing) and give rise to numerical model developments.

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