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Nicolaas C. van de Giesen

Nicolaas C. van de Giesen
Nicolaas C. van de Giesen

The 2015 Henry Darcy Medal is awarded to Nicolaas C. van de Giesen for his fundamental contributions to multidisciplinary research in water management for sustainable development.

Through his research and professional commitment Nicolaas C. van de Giesen has had tremendous impact on the knowledge and human capital in the discipline of hydrology and water resources. The advances he made in information theory for water resources, including the application of data compression to define information content of hydrological time series, contain some of the most original and insightful new approaches in statistical aspects of hydrology.

He has produced a wide range of innovative instruments and breakthrough publications for new affordable observation tools, such as remote sensing of soil moisture using microwave radiometers and tree interception by stem compression. In addition, his efforts in observation techniques are matched by his contributions to modelling, from analytical (exceptional contributions to the Boussinesq equation literature), to process-based (thermodynamics of rivers), and most recently, he has become the intellectual engine behind a truly global hydrological model. His advances in information theory for water resources, including the application of data compression to define information content of hydrological time series, contain some of the most original and insightful new approaches in statistical aspects of hydrology.

He has demonstrated a great dedication to addressing water issues in developing countries, together with students from the regions involved. He helped set-up experimental watersheds, and measured and modelled the impact of lowland rice cultivation, which lead to a regional programme for the application of radar satellite imagery in water resources management. He promoted the development and installation of affordable instruments together with local people and stakeholders in Africa. His work in Ghana on small reservoirs is world leading and highly relevant for food production, poverty alleviation, land and water conservation and the general well-being of people. Not only does this improve our knowledge and capacity to ground-truth in data sparse regions, it also capacitates local researchers and provides highly relevant information to local people. The GLOWA-Volta Project that he conceptualised and started, produced a total of 88 PhD graduates, of which nearly two-thirds were from West Africa.

He has also provided important and outstanding services to the EGU. He chaired the Hydrology sub-division on Water Resources Systems, was editor of HESS, and has convened many sessions at hydrological meetings. Along with his many other voluntary services to the hydrology community he served as editor of reputable journals such as Water Resources Research and Irrigation and Drainage, and provided leadership as the secretary of the International Commission on Water Resources Systems (ICWRS) of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS).

With his disciplinary excellence, creative ideas, and open approach to the involvement of other disciplines, he has already inspired a generation of researchers. Both his unpretentious approach and his scientific accomplishments are truly unparalleled in breadth and depth. He is a most deserving recipient of the 2015 EGU Henry Darcy Medal.