Z. Kundzewicz

The Dooge medal of the 2016 International Hydrology Prize of IAHS/WMO/UNESCO goes to Professor Zbigniew Kundzewicz.

"For outstanding contributions to an improved understanding of flood events, climate impact on water resources and his leadership in the international community of hydrologists".

Left to right: Dominique Bérod (Chief WMO), Hubert Savenije (President IAHS), Zbigniew Kundzewicz (Dooge Medal Recipient), Abou Amani (Chief of Section HSS, UNESCO)

Citation given by Prof. H. Savenije

Professor Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz is Corresponding Member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, as well as Senior Scientist in the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany. His principal research expertise includes extreme hydrological events with emphasis on floods, climate change impacts, and sustainable development. He is a prolific author with 574 publications of which 163 are registered in the ISI database. His work is highly recognized by the scientific community as evidenced by the large number of citations and an H-index of 30. His work is highly recognized internationally.

Professor Kundzewicz has dealt with various aspects of floods since the very beginning of his career in 1974. His doctoral and habilitation theses were devoted to flood routing in a theoretical context. He continued this research for years, collaborating with then leaders on the field (including Erich Plate and Jim Dooge). After the dramatic floods in Poland in summer 1997, he developed a stronger interest on flood research, by providing fundamental contributions on trend detection, flood databases, flood management, historical analysis of flood risk, climate-change and land-use change impacts, and flood risk reduction in a sustainable development context. His research on floods showed that he is a truly international scientist, very talented in inspiring and coordinating collaboration. He has been involved in international collaboration for more than 30 years and has published joint papers with more than a hundred co-authors.

Professor Kundzewicz has been the leading scientist representing hydrology in the inner circle of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He was the Coordinating Lead Author of the Freshwater chapters in the Third and Fourth IPCC Assessment Reports, and two IPCC special reports, as well as Review Editor for the Fifth IPCC Assessment Reports. This outstanding work was presented in his masterpiece paper in 2008 on: The implications of projected climate change for freshwater resources and their management.

Professor Kundzewicz’s close relationship with the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) and its official organ, Hydrological Sciences Journal (HSJ), started very early in 1987, when he was the first recipient of the Tison Award, which honours young hydrologists who published an outstanding paper in IAHS publications.

In April 1997 Professor Kundzewicz was appointed as the IAHS and HSJ Editor and remained in this position for 18 years, until April 2015, thus setting a record in longevity in leading HSJ. Professor Kundzewicz transformed the journal into its modern and prominent form.

As the HSJ Editor he was very effective in pinpointing innovative papers. By putting a lot of effort and time in reading the papers himself, Professor Kundzewicz was able to release and publish good controversial papers that were trapped in the review process. He also introduced a fair-play, objective, ethical and scientific style in the journal. He made the journal open to different ideas and debates on topical issues. In this way, HSJ has become a most respectful vehicle of the climate-hydrology dialogue, where both IPCC findings related to hydrology and critiques on them have been published.

His tremendous editorial experience was also disseminated to the wider hydrological community through a number of Editorials. His most recent one, summarizing his experience as HSJ editor is a fascinating read, instructive for both younger and older colleagues.

These facts demonstrate that Professor Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz has been an international leader in the science of hydrology, a prolific author, and a role model of a Scientific Editor. In short, he is the ideal recipient of the 2017 Dooge medal. It is nice to observe that he had five joint papers with Jim Dooge. We have thus all reason to believe that Jim Dooge himself would have been very pleased to see his co-author receive the 2017 Dooge medal. We also believe that the medal is a deserving reward for his long service and dedication to IAHS, WMO and Unesco, and we would very much appreciate if he would continue his many years of support to the hydrological community as Dooge medalist and ambassador of our association.

I would like to thank the 11 National Representatives (among whom Günter, Graham and Andreas) for nominating Zbigniew, whom I congratulate wholeheartedly on behalf of IAHS, WMO and UNESCO, and the entire hydrological community as the new Dooge medalist.

Hubert Savenije
President of IAHS
Port Elizabeth, July 2017


Response from Prof. Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz

Let me start by stating that I consider receiving the 2017 Dooge Medal of the International Hydrology Prize of IAHS, UNESCO and WMO to be a great honour and immense pleasure.

I have been associated with IAHS for a very long time. The beginning dates back to a divided world when Poland was behind the iron curtain. I attended my first scientific conference abroad in 1975. It was an IAHS conference in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, where I could travel without crossing the iron curtain. In 1983, at the IUGG General Assembly in Hamburg, I was made a member of the IAHS Hydrology 2000 Working Group and soon I became a chairman of this Group. Thirty years ago, at the IUGG General Assembly in Vancouver, in August 1987, I was the first recipient of the Tison Award of the IAHS. 

There have been major changes in my life in the last few years. In April 2015, I retired from being a Co-Editor of Hydrological Sciences Journal (after 18 years of service) and, in April 2016, I retired, after 15 years, from my part-time employment at PIK. Now, I intend to retire from my Polish Institute in August 2017 even if I may continue working in the Institute on a temporary-contract basis. However, so-far my bibliometric indices keep growing, dynamically. There are seven journal papers listed in ISI Web of Science, co-authored by myself and published in the first seven months of this year. Six further papers are accepted and many are in the pipeline., I am a co-author of three papers published in HSJ this year.

It is fortunate that I managed to overcome acute health problems visible at the IUGG Assembly in Prague in June 2015. My illness was an alarm signal making me change my lifestyle and accommodate more physical exercises. Now, at face value, I am older but I feel younger. I continue to enjoy interaction with my family, and grandchildren in particular, and continue to enjoy my scientific work, albeit being more selective now, with principal interest in every dimension of flood science and in climate change impact on water resources.

I have been a witness of a considerable part of modern history of hydrology and have had a privilege to know people who wrote this history, including many past winners of the International Hydrology Prize. The international scientists of great calibre, who influenced me most and whom I owe very much, were: Erich Plate, Jim Dooge, John Rodda, Vit Klemes, John Schellnhuber and Demetris Koutsoyiannis. I also wish to acknowledge two Polish scientists: Witold Strupczewski and Zdzisław Kaczmarek. Most of these scientists were International Hydrology Prize holders.

It was indeed good luck that I met Demetris Koutsoyiannis – a great scientist, International Hydrology Prize holder, and a great character. Without him I would have to resign as editor of the growing Hydrological Sciences Journal. It was simply too much – I could not cope with the growth. Indeed, Demetris and I had somewhat different opinions on climate issues but this added to the heterogeneity of the journal. I do hope that our opinions will gradually converge.

Apart from IAHS, I have been seriously involved in activities of the Inter­governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where I played many roles over a long time span of two decades: 1994-2014. I have been a Co-ordinating Lead Author four times – probably more than anyone else. The IPCC Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water, co-edited and co-authored by myself and published in all six official languages of the United Nations, is quite well known.

Being a recipient of the Dooge Medal has a special meaning to me. Indeed, I had a privilege to know Jim Dooge, a scientist, politician, and statesman, whom I greatly admired. In 1982-3, he invited me to pay a visit to Dublin, on exchange with the Royal Irish Academy. I visited Jim’s house and he visited the house of my parents during his work stays in Poland. Myself and a few colleagues from Warsaw dealt with what we called Doogology, but there were only a handful of people, worldwide, interested in this theoretical area. Hence, papers prepared in co-operation with Jim were published in journals rated in ISI Web of Science, but they have not been among the bibliometric leaders, citation-wise.

Finally, I wish to thank Demetris for his long-term collaboration and friendship and for proposing my nomination for this award—without telling me anything about it. I thank Alberto Montanari for endorsing this idea. Furthermore, I wish to express my gratitude to people leading 11 national IAHS and WMO CHy committees for supporting my nomination. I thank IAHS - Hubert Savenije, Eric Servat and Christophe Cudennec. I am grateful to members of the award committee from UNESCO and WMO. I thank Blanca Jimenez-Cisneros and I had a chance to thank Johannes Cullmann when we met in Koblenz in April. Big thanks go to my family – my wife Lucy, children and their families, particularly grandchildren, parents and brother with his family, for love, support, and patience.

Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz
July 2017