IAHS in Montréal, Canada – ECS events at IUGG 2019

A –Streams of Thought– contribution by Nilay Dogulu, Joris Eekhout, Svenja Fischer, Giovanny Mosquera, Michelle Newcomer, Jean Namugize.

Time flies by! Do you remember the last IAHS Scientific Assembly in 2017? It was July in South Africa’s lovely coastal city Port Elizabeth. Researchers all around the world gathered to share their work and discuss hydrology together. There were quite many interesting sessions, including those aimed at early career scientists. You can read this post by Tim and Nilay in YHS –Streams of Thought– Blog to refresh your memories of IAHS 2017, and download presentations from the ECS events. Please note that July 2017 marked a milestone in IAHS history since it was during the Bureau meetings held in Port Elizabeth that IAHS launched its Early Career Committee initiative. 

Two years later, hydrologists all around the world met in beautiful Montréal, Canada for the next IAHS conference organized as part of the 27th International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics General Assembly (IUGG 2019, 8-18 July 2019), including the five members of IAHS ECC (Joris, Svenja, Giova, Michelle, Jean and Nilay). We have been regularly meeting online since Nov 2018, yet we met in person for the first time in Montréal! (Note: The first IAHS ECC mandate officially came into force from July 2019  and will run until July 2021 when the next ECC will take over at the IAHS Scientific Assembly in Montpellier, France.)

The week of 9-14 July was full of IAHS sessions and activities. The programme included 29 scientific sessions and 5 joint symposia led by IAHS (and co-organized with other IUGG associations). There were, in total, 4000+ participants from more than 100 countries. We were not so much affected by the high summer temperatures in Québec – rooms of the conference venue were cold enough to keep our attention strong. If you couldn’t attend the IAHS conference, don’t worry. You can get a glimpse of the week thanks to live feed in the HEPEX Blog by Marie-Amélie Boucher and Maria-Helena Ramos.

The Early Career Committee complemented the IAHS scientific program with 5 workshops. Read on for a summary of each workshop, and some highlights from IAHS events. There are also tweets and photos!:)

How to write and publish a paper in hydrology

Writing a scientific paper is an essential part of any academic career. In this workshop, two internationally well-known hydrologists provided insights into the writing and publishing process. The first talk was given by IAHS president Günter Blöschl (TU Vienna) and was a step-by-step guidance from the first sketch to a complete paper with many helpful recommendations. The second talk was given by Jeffrey McDonnell (University of Saskatchewan), author of “Navigating an academic career”, who gave insights into the publishing process (behind the scenes) and helpful information on how to interpret reviews. The workshop closed with an open discussion on the future changes and challenges of scientific publishing, where audience could talk to the editors Attilio Castellarin (Hydrological Sciences Journal), Stacey Archfield (Hydrological Sciences Journal), Hubert Savenije (Hydrology and Earth System Sciences) and the two speakers of the workshop about open access, graphical abstracts and the need of open source data. You can download presentations of Jeffrey McDonnell and Günter Blöschl through the links provided. More presentations with great tips for early career hydrologists on how to write a paper are available in YHS Resources.


Science communication

In this workshop, three speakers were invited to talk about various subjects on how to communicate scientific results to the general public. The first speaker was Hubert Savenije from the Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands), who gave a presentation on science communication through traditional media, such as newspapers, radio, and television. One of his key points was to demand that you can proofread the text before it goes public, to prevent that your claims are misinterpreted by the journalist and, ultimately, the audience. The second speaker was Stefan Uhlenbrook from UNESCO-WWAP (Italy), who focused on science communication within a policy context. He introduced the World Water Development Reports, which are presented each year on the World Water Day and have a very large outreach. The last speaker was Jason Droboth from Mount-Royal University (Canada), who is specialized in science communication through social media. In his talk, he introduced “The Question Sequence”, from which you can start a science communication campaign. The plenary discussion was led by John Taber from IRIS (United States) and focused on the motivation to communicate science. The discussion centered on the question “What key threats and opportunities best motivate the hydrological community and you personally to communicate with the public?” The attendees discussed the opportunities (e.g. increase awareness) and threats (e.g. contradicting results) of communicating hydrological results. But also their personal motivation to communicate with the general public, such as to increase your network and to share your personal curiosity about the world. Please read this blog post on Joris’s blog, for an extended summary of the workshop. The presentations are available in the following links: H. Savenije, S. Uhlenbrook, J. Droboth


Using R in Hydrology

This workshop was geared for researchers interested in learning about applications of the programming language R for hydrology, as well as advanced R programmers wanting to hear about recent developments including new methods and packages. We invited three guest speakers to discuss relevant applications of R in hydrological research context. Our first speaker was Guillaume Thirel from IRSTEA, HYCAR Research Unit, France on Using R in Hydrology: recent developments and future directions. The second speaker was Attilio Castellarin from Universita’ di Bologna speaking about TopKriging. Our final speaker was Alberto Viglione from Politecnico di Torino, Italy and discussed Flood Frequency Hydrology MCMC Bayesian analysis in R. The workshop attracted a great audience. The Q&A part at the end was especially very helpful in that the participants took the opportunity to ask their questions. The presentations of the workshop are downloadable via below links:


Hydrological Research and Practice: Where is the Harmony?

This workshop highlighted the importance of bringing harmony into the efforts of hydrological sciences and practice communities for impactful progress towards addressing the large and diverse challenges of hydrology. The invited speakers Maria-Helena Ramos (IRSTEA), Johannes Cullmann (WMO), Anil Mishra (UNESCO-IHP), and Fabian Tito Arandia Martinez (Hydro-Québec) shared their insights and visions on the topic. The EGU Hydrological Sciences Division president Ramos emphasized that science and practice should move forward together, and that early career hydrologists are the drivers for facilitating the harmony. Anil Mishra summarized activities of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) towards connecting hydrology science to practice.  Johannes Cullmann, the Director of WMO’s Climate and Water Department, pointed out (1) the importance of fundamental research, and (2) the mismatch between scientific knowledge and operational needs of practitioners. He said: “It is about tailoring, not about reinventing everything. There is so much in science that is already out there, which could probably help a lot of practical problems and create much more harmony.” Representing early career hydrologists, Fabian Tito talked about challenges around translating science into practice for addressing operational needs with examples from Montréal, and described the essentials for making his work bring meaningful impact: patience, communication skills, and staying connected with the research community. In the discussion part, we discussed Citizen Science as a rapidly developing field where scientific researchers and practitioners can work together. The audience mentioned the contextual differences in the developing countries and the resulting challenges they are experiencing. One (senior) participant stressed the value of early career hydrologists, through their curiosity, willingness to listen and their strong communication skills, in bringing new science into practice to overcome the existing limitations. Overall, at the end of the panel discussions, we agreed that: (1) There is still need for platforms of discussion to increase awareness on the interface between hydrological sciences and practice. (2) A shake-up is needed to refresh the perspectives and bring in new approaches to see how this harmony can be harvested upon. (3) It is at this stage that we, early career hydrologists, should take a leading role with support from research bodies (universities, science institutions, etc.), UN initiatives and the private sector. Please click the links to download presentations of the speakers: M.-H. Ramos   M. Anil   F. T. A. Mardinez


Ensemble Streamflow Forecasting and Reservoir Optimization

The workshop covered two exciting topics in hydrological science to operate water resources in an efficient manner. These are ensemble streamflow forecasting and reservoir optimization. The two follow-up lectures are delivered Marie-Amélie Boucher (Université de Sherbrooke) and Sara Séguin (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi & GERAD), respectively. Starting with an interactive questionnaire, the background of the audience was evaluated. It turned out that there were participants from five different continents with various backgrounds (hydrology, statistics, hydropower etc.) from undergraduate to professor. Marie-Amélie Boucher started with some basics about forecasting. One of the key questions was “What is a “good” ensemble or probabilistic forecasting?” for which she gave valuable verification methods (CRPS, logarithmic score, reliability diagram). Finally, calibration, data assimilation and pre-processing/post-processing concepts were introduced. Also, the distinctions between them were simplified by some useful real-case examples. Sara Séguin initially described the elements of hydropower production, their relation in the hydropower system and hydropower optimization. In the context of hydropower, uncertainty arises from inflows and prices. At this point, we have learned that stochastic optimization methods are used for the problems that contain uncertain parameters at the moment of making a decision! One of the key points was that reservoir optimization (medium term) and short term optimization use different methods. The take home message was that hydropower scheduling is complex and requires many interactions (hydrologists, statisticians, operation research, programmers, analysts and engineers) for different parts, so that it is a rich and various field to study and/or work in! The feedback of the audience was very positive, especially on the very nice and easily to follow presentations, which helped many to better understand the differences in forecasting and simulation. The presentation from the workshop can be accessed HERE. Check out also the materials from short courses and training at HEPEX repository.



In 2018, IAHS introduced the SYSTA: Sivapalan Young Scientists Travel Award. The SYSTA Award scheme supports early career scientists from financially disadvantaged country to enable their participation to IAHS events. The first SYSTA awardees attended the IUGG 2019 in Montréal, being the very first event eligible for an award. A reception and mentoring event was organised with Prof. Murugesu Sivapalan where all SYSTA awardees, members of the IAHS Early Career Committee and recipients of the IUGG Travel support gathered in one room. M Sivapalan asked all the grant recipients and ECC members to introduce themselves and explain their research. Then, he asked them to discuss the challenges of doing research in financially disadvantaged countries. IAHS ECC is keen to follow up on the discussions and work with the first batch of awardees to address these challenges. If you are interested, please get in touch with us! Please note that the awardees will share their conference experience in reports, which will soon be available on IAHS website.


IAHS Highlights

  • The business meeting “IAHS UPH: Unsolved Problems in Hydrology initiative”: Although it was scheduled in late afternoon, the meeting was well attended by participants. The meeting was led by the IAHS president Günter Blöschl. First, an overview of the launch of the IAHS UPH initiative was given, and the following events that took place (see the paper in HSJ for detailed information) were briefly described. The participants engaged in the discussions on the next steps to be followed. 
  • The 2019 IAHS-UNESCO-WMO International Hydrology Prize ceremony was held during the IAHS plenary session. The winners of 2019 are Alberto Montanari (Dooge Medal) and Jan Szolgay (Volker medal). Huge congratulations! Alberto Montanari’s award presentation “To change or not to change, that is the question” can be seen here.
  • One of the IUGG Union Lectures (IAHS) was given by Veena Srinivasan: “Bridging the Science-Policy Gap to address India’s Water Crisis: Insights from Cauvery Basin research”. The key messages were: (1) do the right type of science, (2) we need more, better data, (3) pay attention to the political economy, (4) recognize science-policy gaps, communicate old and new science, (5) connect the dots.
  • Amir AghaKouchak received the IUGG’s 2019 Early Career Scientist Award. His award lecture attracted a big audience.
  • The 2019 IAHS Officer elections took place during the IAHS Administrative Plenary (on July 9th). The list of elected officers can be seen here. Our very own Svenja Fischer, ECS Rep. for the Int. Comm. on Statistical Hydrology, was elected as the vice-president of her commission. The president-elect Berit Arheimer shared her visions for IAHS and greater hydrology community at the IAHS Plenary and Award Ceremony. She will be the first woman president (2021-2025) in IAHS history! Warm congratulations to Berit Arheimer!


  • Of course, the traditional frisbee match! After losing one frisbee to the ocean on a windy day in Port Elizabeth, this year the players enjoyed the shining Sun and the green grass loan of Champ de Mars (a public park in Old Montréal)  on a very hot day. Both the audience and the players had fun! Thanks to Guillaume Thirel for organizing this fantastic ultimate frisbee day!


Photo gallery

We hope that you enjoyed reading so far. Now it is time for visual journalism. Please see below a selection of photos (with captions) taken during the week.

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What’s next?

2017 in Africa, 2019 in north America. And in 2021… IAHS conference will be back in Europe (in Montpellier, France / 28 June – 2 July)! We will meet in Europe again at IUGG 2023 (in Berlin, Germany). Check https://iahs.info/ and @IAHS_AISH shortly for details. Also, stay updated with upcoming hydrology events through IAHS Calendar

See you soon!

Yours sincerely,

On behalf of IAHS Early Career Committee
Nilay Dogulu (Chair), Joris Eekhout (ICCE), Svenja Fischer (ICSH), Giovanny Mosquera (ICT), Michelle Newcomer (ICGW), Jean Namugize (ICWQ)

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