Hallway Conversations – Thorsten Wagener

A –Streams of Thought– contribution by Wouter Knoben (WK)

Prof. Thorsten Wagener is a hydrologist, currently head of the Water and Environmental Engineering research group at the University of Bristol, UK. He has received various prestigious awards and was recently a Humboldt fellow at the University of Potsdam. I had the pleasure of interviewing Thorsten in his office, where we spent a good hour and half going over his experiences.


WK: Can you tell us a bit about your background and formal education? How were you in school?

I studied Civil Engineering in Siegen (BSc), Delft (MSc), and finally Imperial College London (PhD), but I never really wanted to be a civil engineer when I was in high school. My dream was to become an architect. Unfortunately, I only did the absolute minimum in high school, so my grades where average at best. Entry requirements for architecture were too high for my grades but civil engineering seemed like architecture, and at least I could get into that degree. I had never heard of hydrology then, and programs like the hydrology course in Freiburg (which produced many excellent hydrologists like Jan Seibert, Markus Weiler, Kerstin Stahl, Doerthe Tetzlaff…) would never have taken me anyway due to their entrance requirements. I was also quite bad at computer programming at the time. In fact, I did so poorly during a test that I ended up with a negative score (points were subtracted for mistakes from an initial score of 100) and only got a passing grade if I promised not to take the course the following year. Quite funny really, because now all I do is use computers.

WK: So, what did inspire you to pursue in hydrology then?

During my undergraduate degree in Siegen, I had a professor who worked in Africa and the Middle East. This was quite practical work, and he offered his students final year projects in Ethiopia. That seemed an exciting idea, so I spent 5 months there. I really liked the idea of combining engineering with helping people, so I abandoned my idea to switch from civil engineering to architecture. Instead, at the end of my undergrad degree, I went to Delft for a Master’s in Civil Engineering with a strong focus on hydrology.

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Integration of Early Warning Systems and Young Professionals

A –Streams of Thought– contribution by Nilay Dogulu, Lydia Cumiskey & Erika Roxana Meléndez Landaverde

This is a cross-post with the HEPEX Blog.

Early warning systems (EWSs) help society to prepare for, and respond to, all types of disasters, including those related to hydrometeorological hazards. The recent floods in Mozambique has clearly showed that EWSs are inevitable part of disaster risk management as they can save lives and minimize potential economic and environmental damages. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 specifically emphasizes the need to “substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster-risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.”

The fundamentally central aspect to efficient and sustainable improvements for EWS concerns integration. As highlighted by the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) recent Governance Reform, a shift towards more integrated earth systems approach connecting fields such as hydrology, meteorology and climatology is key to delivering multi-hazard and impact-based services through EWSs that are people-centred (i.e. community based).

What role can young professionals play?

While the complexities and challenges are many, young professionals can play a role in the design and implementation of integrated multi-hazard and impact-based EWSs.

The Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) team of the Water Youth Network has recently initiated a network called Early Warning Systems Young Professionals Network with the purpose of connecting young professionals working on EWSs from various disciplines of science, policy and practice in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It is currently focused on water-related hazards. Members are under the age of 35 or within their first seven years of employment. The specific aims of the network are: Continue reading

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Hydroinformatics for hydrology: uncertainty analysis

In April 2019, European Geosciences Union GA hosted the “Hydroinformatics for hydrology” short course (SC) for the fifth time in a row! This year, early career hydrologists in Vienna took the opportunity to learn about uncertainty (and sensitivity) analysis — one of the overarching themes of hydrology research — in early hours of a beautiful sunny day. This year we had the pleasure to have Dr. Francesca Pianosi of the University of Bristol. We would like to thank Francesca Pianosi for sharing her extensive insights and experience.

08:30 in the morning of Wednesday and the room was packed to listen Francesca Pianosi’s lecture!

The lecture slides can be downloaded from this link. Please note that, in the last slide, you can see a list of papers (all open access) that complement the lecture content, including one paper by Noacco et al. where workflow scripts to implement and test various approaches using the SAFE toolbox (in Matlab and R) are available.

If you are planning to attend EGU 2020 (3–8 May 2020, Vienna), you are kindly invited to share your wish on which topic to see for the next edition of “Hydroinformatics for hydrology” SC.

See also the posts from previous  “Hydroinformatics for hydrology” EGU SC:

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EGU is a bit like a music festival: first time experience of an ECS in hydrology

A –Streams of Thought– contribution by Dimitri Rambourg.

This is a cross-post with the EGU Hydrological Sciences Division Blog.

EGU is a bit like a music festival. Maybe not as crowded as the Donauinselfest, but you’ll definitively experience some of this type of event classic features: dilly-dallying a lot about what to see next, losing your friends and setting up more or less detailed meeting points, buying overpriced food and beverages. And if in the right place at the right time, you might even see some actual “rock stars”!

Me and my Mentor!

EGU is a lot of people and a lot of contents squeezed into one week! Now it can be quite unsettling for newcomers, but here’s some points to demystify the beast.

Despite the ants-like flow in the hallways, EGU recovers human dimensions during each oral session, with an average attendance of about 40 people for what I could experience. It’s something to have in mind when getting nervous about your own scheduled presentation if there’s any.

Half of people is like you, meaning young scientists, eager to share and help each other. And fortunately, the other half is just the same, with more experience and possibly less hair that’s all. Communicating is very easy at EGU, with all kind of researchers (age-wise, country-wise, topic-wise). That’s probably the main purpose of it and the main reason you should come.

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Early career scientists conquer new frontiers: an H3S conversation

Originally posted by CUAHSI.

CUAHSI Universities Allied for Water Research

For the month of April, H3S, AGU’s Hydrology Section Student Subcommittee, will be taking over CUAHSI’s Cyberseminar series. Each of the four seminars will showcase talks by four early career scientists studying some of the most pressing issues around hydrology and beyond, including 1) Coastal Dynamics in a Changing World, 2) Rivers and Lakes Under Changing Climates, 3) Water Resources and Management, and 4) Water Pollution and Quality. Scientists will give short presentations on the week’s theme followed by a brief Q&A.

All talks take place on Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. ET. More information here. For questions, email Caitlyn Hall at caitlyn.hall@asu.edu

Dates, Speakers, and Topics:

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