Paleohydrology investigates the past through the reconstructed paleoflows of rivers, ancient lake volumes, groundwater fluctuations, etc. Analytical approaches use theoretical principles to predict paleohydrological parameters, while synthetic approaches rely upon indicators (signs) of past hydrological processes. Analytical approaches are favored in the current fashion of global change science, but these approaches place 'the cart before the horse' because they focus on verifying models rather than on understanding the complexity of nature. South America is an exceptionally important area for synthetic paleohydrology. Discoveries from paleohydrological fieldwork in South America afford the opportunity for understanding Earth's environment and effectively communicating that understanding to the public, to policy makers, and to politicians. As much of the rest of the world engages in an overly polarized analytical approach to global environmental science, South American paleohydrologists have a great opportunity to lead in a more fruitful exploration of reality. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes