The 2011 Henry Darcy Medal is awarded to Ján Szolgay for outstanding contributions to regional hydrology and water resources management.
Ján Szolgay, Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources Management at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, has made profound and numerous contributions to regional hydrology and water resources management. Szolgay has developed new methods of extreme rainfall estimation. He designed a hybrid approach to delineating homogeneous regions for regional rainfall frequency analysis, and developed a downscaling method for estimating short duration design rainfall from daily data. As in most of his research, his rainfall estimation methods strike a fine balance between building on a process basis and taking advantage of the sparse data in the Central European water resources setting. In estimating flood design values, Ján has devised a new regional method based on the seasonality of floods which allowed him to separately estimate floods from different causal mechanisms such as convective storms and snow melt. He also made major contributions to flood routing. His 2004 paper in the Journal of Hydrology and Hydromechanics has become a classic and is widely used in operational forecasting models. He also developed new parameter estimation methods for enhancing the robustness of operational flood forecasts. As many real world problems occur in catchments without run-off data, Ján designed a number of approaches for estimating rainfall run-off model parameters. Again, the challenge he has been facing is to extract a maximum of information from a minimum of data, which he did by a clever concept of indexing the most important processes by catchment attributes.
Ján Szolgay has established a substantial publication record. In the past five years alone he has published more than 70 peer-reviewed publications. Perhaps more importantly, most of the methods he has developed have found their way into operational water resources management and engineering, and many of them are used in important international cooperation projects. Geographically, Ján’s work has been closely linked to the River Danube at the banks of which he was brought up and learned from his father, a hydraulic engineer himself, the tricks of river training in the “jungles” of river arms, the entire Danube Basin, central Europe, the Carpathian Range and his country, Slovakia. The listing covers the region where his numerous Slovak and English publications are most known and valued. With an open mind brought up in a closed society, Ján has always put a lot of effort into looking at the other side of things. He did not stint time to collect information from different sources even under the most difficult conditions. His openness was built on his extraordinary language skills – excellent knowledge of five languages – and his interest in different cultures. Already at the beginning of his professional career he could demonstrate his intellect, theoretical knowledge and an uncanny ability of finding practical solutions in the international arena while being an active member of the Hydrology 2000 Working Group of IAHS. By doing this, he bridged the gap between Eastern European hydrology and the wider world. Thousands of students in Bratislava have learned from him. He has supervised almost two hundred Master’s theses and two dozen PhDs. Ján Szolgay has always tried to promote EGS/EGU activities. His efforts resulted in an enormous number of students attending and contributing to different EGU sessions. He has served as a Chair for Catchment Hydrology and as a member of the Editorial Board of HESS. Among many other activities he was the initiator and key organiser of several symposia related to the Danube Basin. Szolgay has made very valuable contributions to regional hydrology and water resources management. One of his uncountable strengths has been to develop scientifically sound estimation methods with a minimum of available data, and to use the methods in support of water resources engineering. This is truly in the spirit of Henry Darcy. Just as Henry Darcy revolutionised water science and engineering Ján Szolgay has made a lasting impact on the field.