Giuliano Di Baldassarre
The 2021 Plinius Medal is awarded to Giuliano Di Baldassarre for outstanding research on the interplay between hydrological hazards and society, and significant contributions to the development of policy for the mitigation of floods and droughts.
Giuliano Di Baldassarre is a professor at Uppsala University’s Department of Earth Sciences and director of the Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science in Uppsala, Sweden.
Through his research, Di Baldassarre has made a profound contribution to our understanding of natural hazards, and particularly the complex feedbacks between hydrological extremes and society. He has pioneered the new field of socio-hydrology that is now attracting significant attention from research groups worldwide. To develop this field, Di Baldassare has gone back to long-standing yet unresolved debates in natural hazards (e.g., the levee effect, the adaptation effect) and shown how implementation of new data sets and models allows significant progress in both theoretical and practical understanding of some exceptionally difficult problems. Models that he developed explicitly account for the way in which societies both influence and respond to floods and droughts and have enabled the simulation of paradoxical dynamics of risk. Di Baldassarre’s work is characterized by creativity, thoughtfulness, and an agenda-setting nature.
Di Baldassarre’s work has a significant societal relevance and has been applied in the mitigation of risks from natural hazards both locally and globally. Di Baldassarre served as a coordinator of the project KULTURisk, aiming to develop a culture of risk prevention in Europe. Furthermore, he explored the etiology of increasing flood hazards and disasters in Africa with new approaches and demonstrated how, and to what extent, development of formal and informal human settlements in flood-prone areas has led to increasing losses and fatalities. Di Baldassare has made a significant contribution to the national water plan in Rwanda, with a focus on risks of water shortage, and he has also contributed to the establishment of a research centre on disaster risk reduction in Uganda.
Di Baldassarre has an impressive publication record, having published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, most of which are in top-quality journals. His work is highly cited, reflecting its strong influence on the field and the high esteem in which his work is held. Di Baldassarre’s service to the scientific community is also exemplary, including being editor of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, associate editor of Hydrological Science Journal, member of the International Advisory Board of WIRES Water, and member of the leadership committee of the IAHS Panta Rhei network. Di Baldassarre is currently leading a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant project, HydroSocialExtremes, about the interplay of hydrological extremes and society. For his work, he was awarded an EGU Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award and the AGU Early Career Hydrologic Science Award.
Di Baldassare is also a dedicated educator. He has supervised numerous MSc and PhD candidates as well as 10 postdocs. Since 2018, he has been a director of the EGU/Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science’s Summer School on Natural Hazards in the Anthropocene, a school providing a truly multidisciplinary approach with solutions to natural hazards at its heart.
In summary, through his scientific excellence and his high-impact, cross-cutting research, Di Baldassarre has greatly contributed to the research of hydrological hazards and mitigation of related risks, which makes him eminently worthy of receiving the 2021 Plinius Medal.