Marc F. P. Bierkens
The 2023 Henry Darcy Medal is awarded to Marc F. P. Bierkens for outstanding research on integrative global and regional-scale water resources modelling, aimed at understanding surface and groundwater supply depletion related to human uses and climate change.
Marc Bierkens is a highly versatile hydrologist who has made groundbreaking contributions in a range of fields, including stochastic hydrology, geostatistics, ecohydrology and large-scale hydrology.
His early work on stochastic differential equations of groundwater flow, inspired by the facies structure of the subsurface, highlights how he started from a deep understanding of local hydrological phenomena, which then allowed him to pursue excellent research covering a variety of spatial scales and processes, considering e.g. water-vegetation dynamics, glaciers, groundwater and coastal dynamics.
Following his appointment as a professor at Utrecht University, Marc established a world-leading group focusing on the role of the terrestrial hydrological cycle in the Earth system. He is widely recognised as a leader in global water resource modelling, being one of the very first hydrologists to have engaged in high-resolution global hydrological modelling.This allowed him to quantify, in a detailed way, both groundwater availability and groundwater use around the globe, by combining advanced data mining methods with the latest generation of sophisticated global hydrological models, and a conceptual understanding of the interactions between water consumption and water availability, based on the cultural patterns of different populations.
Marc Bierkens’ group is continually advancing our understanding of global water scarcity, with major contributions on understanding natural and anthropogenic stresses to global and regional groundwater supplies, on global water temperature modelling, and on global water management (including recent work on water economics on the shadow price of irrigation water). His leadership role in model development and the strong team he has assembled, provide in depth data sets on water use by different sectors. Outputs from sensitivity analysis using hyper-resolution modelling have been used to evaluate the effects of different processes on water resources, including reservoir management and irrigation based on surface water and groundwater. He is also tirelessly training the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists: with his ability to attract and inspire young researchers, he is a gifted role model for transformative research as evidenced by the career paths of his former students.
Marc Bierkens has served a critical role in advancing hyper-resolution modeling in the hydrological community and he is having a great influence on the future of global hydrology and the future of our discipline.