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HS 2020/2021 Henry Darcy Medal lectures & 2020 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding ECS Lecture
Convener: Maria-Helena Ramos

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Tue, 20 Apr, 15:00–17:00

Chairperson: Maria-Helena Ramos

Henry Darcy Medal Lecture 2020
Xavier Sanchez-Vila

The more we study flow and transport processes in porous media, the larger the number of questions that arise. Heterogeneity, uncertainty, multidisciplinarity, and interdisciplinarity are key words that make our live as researchers miserable… and interesting. There are many ways of facing complexity; this is equivalent as deciding what colors and textures to consider when being placed in front of a fresh canvas, or what are the sounds to include and combine in a music production. You can try to get as much as you can from one discipline, using very sophisticated state-of-the-art models. On the other hand, you can choose to bring to any given problem a number of disciplines, maybe having to sacrifice deepness in exchange of the better good of yet still sophisticated multifaceted solutions. There are quite a number of examples of the latter approach. In this talk, I will present a few of those, eventually concentrating in managed aquifer recharge (MAR) practices. This technology involves water resources from a myriad of perspectives, covering from climate change to legislation, from social awareness to reactive transport, from toxicological issues to biofilm formation, from circular economy to emerging compounds, from research to pure technological developments, and more. All of these elements deserve our attention as researchers, and we cannot pretend to master all of them. Integration, development of large research groups, open science are words that will appear in this talk. So does mathematics, and physics, and geochemistry, and organic chemistry, and biology. In any given hydrogeological problem you might need to combine equations, statistics, experiments, field work, and modeling; expect all of them in this talk. As groundwater complexity keeps amazing and mesmerizing me, do not expect solutions being provided, just anticipate more and more challenging research questions being asked.

How to cite: Sanchez-Vila, X.: Porous media as a canvas for hydro-bio-geo-chemical processes: Facing the challenges, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15490, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15490, 2021.

Henry Darcy Medal Lecture 2021
Berit Arheimer

The Darcy medal acknowledges water-resources research, engineering and management. In my medal lecture I will embrace these aspects by telling the story of how my team merges numerical models and observations with landscape information to learn about hydrological processes and provide decision-support to society. We predict spatial and temporal variability of water fluxes and resources at local, regional and global scales to estimate hydrological variables in the past, present and future. We also explore “what if” scenarios for societal planning. Such predictions provide useful knowledge to maintain water resources at suitable quantities and qualities, despite on-going global warming, urbanization and environmental change. Water is the basis for all life and most societal sectors; hence, it must be managed properly for sustainable development. I will demonstrate how our scientific findings from the model applications have influenced water resources engineering and management policy.

Water management is always local but wider landscape information, such as knowledge about upstream/downstream conditions and residence-time, is needed when designing management measures. Water resources are normally shared by many stakeholders often with opposing objectives. Here, we found that models can have added value for science communication, participatory processes and conflict resolution to reach environmental goals.

It is well known that numerical models are more or less wrong and linked with uncertainties, but nevertheless, models combined with multiple sources of observations can be very helpful to aggregate information, quantify influence from various processes and describe outcome of complex phenomena. From modelling experiments, I will show how we reached deeper understanding of hydrological process when using the landscape perspective and large-sample empirical data across different physiographical conditions. Linking the model to landscape characteristics also gave us the possibility to make water predictions with some confidence even in data sparse regions and for ungauged catchments.

Large-scale modelling of water resources should be accompanied with site-specific data and local knowledge to be applicable for water resources engineering and management. Therefore, we share our model and I will exemplify how we reach a better understanding and make use of new science in collaborative efforts across the globe. Recently, the modelled data was also aggregated into societal-relevant indicators and provided through web-based climate and water services. During co-development of such on-line tools with practitioners, however, we encountered a large knowledge gap between data producers and data users, which calls for mutual engagement to reach understanding.

To sum up, my team uses and provides open data, open science and community building world-wide to accelerate water research by sharing local insights and collective intelligence in addressing multiple landscapes. Yet, scientific knowledge is always preliminary and needs to be challenged by peers and explored by users to be practically beneficial. I therefore advocate for science communication as an emerging field to engage more with. Hydrological scientists have a lot to contribute and learn in dialogues to find hope and solutions under global change, which will help in sustaining the water resources and the Planet as we know it.

How to cite: Arheimer, B.: Landscape perspectives in hydrological understanding and modelling for water management, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12778, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12778, 2021.

Arne Richter Award for Outstanding ECS Lecture 2020
Andreas Hartmann

The dissolution of carbonate rock ‘karstification’ creates pronounced surface and subsurface heterogeneity and results in complex flow and transport dynamics. Consequently, water resources managers face significant challenges keeping calm when dealing with karst water resources especially in times of environmental change. My lecture not only will provide an overview of the peculiarities of karst hydrology but it will also offer some approaches that facilitate the assessment of environmental changes on karst water resources. Using two case studies, one at the plot scale and the other at the scale of an entire continent, I will contrast the opportunities and challenges of dealing with karst across different scales and climatic regions. Along these case studies, I will elaborate (1) how understanding on dominant karst processes can be obtained, (2) how this understanding can be incorporated into karst specific modelling approaches, and (3) how karst models developed at different scales can be used for water management. The presentation will conclude with some thoughts to facilitate less furious implementations of karst approaches for everyone.

How to cite: Hartmann, A.: The karst and the furious – ways to keep calm when dealing with karst hydrology, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1353, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1353, 2021.


  • Alberto Montanari, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Jesús Carrera, CSIC, Spain
  • Ilias Pechlivanidis, SMHI, Sweden
  • Thorsten Wagener
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