The 2013 Henry Darcy Medal is awarded to Georgia Destouni in recognition of her outstanding, path-breaking, and seminal contributions to hydrology and water resources research.
Georgia Destouni initially studied transport of solutes by groundwater in heterogeneous aquifers. In this field she was the lead author of at least two fundamental contributions that became standard references. As time elapsed, her interest in upscaling those results to basin scales emerged owing to the scientific and practical interest in large-scale hydrologic transport phenomena. The field of transport in the integrated, heterogeneous soil-groundwater system at large scales was the natural development of her work. This was to be considered seminal for it opened a broad and novel field: that of solute transport through the entire terrestrial pathways of the hydrologic cycle including the whole subsurface system. In this field, Destouni is true pioneer and it is rewarding to observe that this subject has become one of the hot topics of hydrologic research, also in view of its broad ecological and environmental implications – a longstanding interest of hers, also borne out of social consciousness and civil commitment to the environmental cause.
In parallel, jointly with her group, she proposed various extensions to Lagrangian theories of transport of solutes undergoing multi-component chemical reactions. She capitalised on her hydrological background to address waste leaching in mining rock, also a topic of widespread environmental interest, and the management of pollution of large-scale water resources systems. Nutrient transport by streams and in coastal areas followed in the same theoretical line of thought, and included critical case studies of climate-change-induced nitrogen loads in surface waters. Particularly significant in this area is the study of the nutrient loads discharging into the entire Baltic Sea and their prospective changes and impacts. Thus her research, though clearly rooted in hydrology, became throughout the years well known and important to the broader community concerned with the impacts of climate change.
Few researchers in hydrology and environmental sciences have covered such a broad range of subjects and contributed so richly through a truly multidisciplinary approach to the environmental challenges faced by our society today. Destouni is also highly regarded by students and colleagues alike for her academic standards and scholarly and collegiate attitude. Opinionated and authoritative, she is an internationally recognised leader of the community. For her exceptional creativity and scholarship, reflected in her track record of accomplishments, she is a worthy recipient of the Henry Darcy Medal.