American Chemical Society
Environmental Science & Technology
To properly remediate, improve, or predict how hydrological systems behave, it is vital to establish their histories. However, modern-style records, assembled from instrumental data and remote sensing platforms, hardly exist back more than a few decades. As centuries of data is preferable given multidecadal fluxes of both meteorology/climatology and demographics, building such a history requires resources traditionally considered only useful in the social sciences and humanities. In this Feature, Pastore et al. discuss how they have undertaken the synthesis of historical records and modern techniques to understand the hydrology of the Northeastern U.S. from Colonial times to modern day. Such approaches could aid studies in other regions that may require heavier reliance on qualitative narratives. Further, a better insight as to how historical changes unfolded could provide a “past is prologue” methodology to increase the accuracy of predictive environmental models.