The International Association of Hydrological Sciences
From its launch in 1922, the activities of the
International Association of Hydrological Sciences have helped to solve
the pressing problems of water resources existing in many parts of the
world. This Association -the oldest and most distinguished international
learned society in the water field-
serves the needs of humanity through the promotion of science and the
stimulation of its applications. IAHS has accomplished this by acting as a
catalyst for international cooperation and sound management in the
development and use of water resources.
Basic to these endeavours is the pursuit of the
science of hydrology. This is the science which ôdeals with the
waters above and below the land surfaces of the Earth, their occurrence,
circulation and distribution, both in space and time, their biological,
chemical and physical properties, their reaction with the environment,
including their relations to living thingsö.
The forums of the Association provide for discussion,
comparison and publication of the results of research, and initiate,
facilitate and coordinate research into those hydrological problems that
require international cooperation. They offer a firm scientific basis for
the optimal use of water resources systems. This includes educational
outreach and the transfer of knowledge on planning, engineering,
management and the economic aspects of applied hydrology and water
In a changing world, where diminishing water
resources and the hazards of floods, droughts and pollution play an ever
increasing role, what could be more important than to improve and
disseminate knowledge and understanding of these fields through the
science of hydrology?
IAHS is a nonprofit-making non-governmental
scientific organisation dedicated to the improvement of the well-being of
every man, woman and child on this planet through the motivation of the
community of scientists and engineers involved in the study and
application of hydrology and water resources. The Association is widely
known for the vitality of its activities, particularly for its scientific
meetings -assemblies, symposia and workshops- and for its publications and
research projects. It now has a membership of over 3700 globally, drawn
from 129 countries. As there is no membership fee (unlike most other
scientific bodies), the Association is accessible to any
professionally-interested person worldwide, including many in developing
countries and in those countries where the economy is in transition. But
IAHS is not a rich organisation: it has no dedicated benefactors. Its main
source of income comes from the sales of its publications: Hydrological
Sciences Journal, the proceedings of symposia, and special
publications, to libraries, IAHS members and other
interested parties, worldwide.
The Association is run for its members by its
members. Every four years there are elections at the General Assembly for
the honorary officers of the Association, elections which are conducted in
a fair and open fashion, in accordance with its Statutes and Bylaws. The
President, Secretary General, Treasurer, Editor and other officers of the
Association form the Bureau, which manages the affairs of IAHS between
IAHS is one of seven autonomous bodies that together
make up the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) founded
in 1919. IUGG is one of the members of the International Council for
Science (formerly ICSU) with its secretariat in Paris. The Association is
a leading member of the International Water Associations Liaison
Committee, the committee established to bring together the dozen or so
water-orientated international non-governmental organisations. IAHS is an
elected member of the World Water Council Board of Governors and
collaborates closely with UNESCO, WMO and IAEA through their respective
programmes in water. This collaboration, in the case of UNESCO, WMO and
IAEA, dates back to the 1960s: IAHS was one of the founders of the
International Hydrological Decade (1965-1974) that led to the current
International Hydrological Programme in UNESCO. These different links
provide a wider stage over which the Association operates, the links to
the agencies of the United Nations being particularly important.
The activities of the Association are initiated
primarily by its nine Scientific Commissions, which deal either with
specific aspects of hydrology or with themes that cut across several or
all aspects of hydrology. They are the International Commissions on:
Surface Water, ICSW
The officers of each Commission are elected from the IAHS membership, by the members, every four years. Each Commission has contributed a review of their activities and current work in their field for this publication.
The Associationĺs activities span a four-year cycle
between General Assemblies. Recent Assemblies have been at Birmingham, UK,
1999, and Boulder, USA, 1995; the next will be in Sapporo, Japan, in July
2003. Each year the Association and its Commissions organise symposia and
workshops in different parts of the world, often in cooperation with
UNESCO and WMO. For example, in 2003 the Association is organising and
co-sponsoring meetings at Stellenbosch, South Africa; Valdivia, Chile;
Montpellier, France; Vienna, Austria; Tallinn, Estonia; Davos,
Switzerland; Visakhapatnam, India, and Rome, Italy: each will address a
Halfway between General Assemblies, the Association
organises its Scientific Assemblies. The most recent was held in
Maastricht, The Netherlands, in July 2001, and the previous one was in
Rabat, Morocco, in 1997. The next is planned for Iguacu, Brazil, in 2005.
During the week of a General or Scientific Assembly, there are up to six
symposia and ten workshops covering a large number of topics.
For example, at Rabat in 1997, six symposia
addressed: Sustainability of Water Resources Under Increasing Uncertainty;
Hard Rock Hydrosystems; Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems
for the Design and Operation of Water Resources Systems; Freshwater
Contamination; Hydrochemistry; and Human Impact on Erosion and
Sedimentation. This Assembly had 455 participants, from 53 counties.
The Association undertakes and promotes research
projects; for example during the period 1993-1998 much effort was devoted
to a sustainable reservoir development and management project. A number of
IAHS projects have contributed to the International Hydrological Programme.
The International FRIEND Project is worth a special mention, as this has
advanced cooperation, hydrological understanding and capacity building
regionally, such as in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
countries, in West Africa and in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region.
A new IAHS project has been launched on Prediction in
Ungauged Basins (PUB), addressing one of the crucial difficulties in the
hydrological sciences. As many ungauged basins are located in less
developed countries, which cannot afford costly monitoring programmes,
establishing an efficient methodology is of vast practical importance for
assessment of water resources and building preparedness systems against
water-related disasters. The kick-off meeting of the PUB project, held in
November 2002 in Brasilia, raised considerable interest amongst many
individuals and several supporting bodies worldwide.
Following the success of the IAHS Hydrology 2000
Working Group (which reported in 1987), the Association set up the
Hydrology 2020 Working Group in 2001, composed of a dozen hydrologists,
aged 35 or less, each from a different country. The aim of the Group is to
predict what the science will be like some 15 years ahead when they report
in 2005. The Hydrology 2000 Report (IAHS Publ. no. 171) makes very
interesting reading today!
The IAHS publications programme started in 1924 with
the production of the proceedings of symposia organised by the
Association. This series, known as the ôRed Booksö because of their
distinctive red covers, reached IAHS Publication no. 100 in 1970 and no.
276 by 2002. The Associationĺs scientific journal was started in 1956.
Now called the Hydrological Sciences Journal, it is published
bimonthly with about ten papers in English or French in each issue. From
time to time a special issue is produced: the most recent (vol. 47(5),
2002) contains invited papers on Ecohydrology. Over the last two years the
Journal has risen sharply up the list of 50 water journals in the ISI
Journals Citation Index: currently it is ranked fifth with an impact
factor of 1.22 (ISI Journals Citation Report, 2001).
A series of Special Publications was started in 1989.
The most recent deal with the hydrology and water resources of the River
Nile (Special Publ. 5, 1999) and the ecohydrology of South American rivers
and wetlands (Special Publ. 6, 2002). A series on snow and ice has been
published jointly by IAHS and UNESCO, while UNESCOĺs International
Hydrology Series was published by IAHS. In the early 1980s, an informal
newsletter was started by the then Secretary General to keep members
abreast of IAHS activities. This newsletter has developed into a 24+ page
publication, which appears three times a year in 4500 copies.
The IAHS website http://www.cig.ensmp.fr/~iahs
contains information, articles and abstracts of scientific papers from
these different publications.
IAHS involves its members as readers of publications,
participants in scientific meetings and users of results of research
projects, and more actively as authors of articles in IAHS publications,
contributors to scientific meetings and to research projects. The benefits
derived from these activities and their practical applications at
grassroots level are very difficult to quantify, a problem faced by IAHS
and all similar bodies.
The IAHS Task Force for Developing Countries (TFDC)
helps less developed countries to contribute to hydrological research,
improve understanding of their water resources and manage them more
effectively. It has accomplished this since 1991 by distributing the
Journal and other publications to more than 70 libraries and institutes in
some 50 countries free of charge. The aim is to provide scientists and
engineers in these countries access to the most recent hydrological
literature, so long as this literature is made widely available inside and
outside the recipient organisation. The TFDC has also been successful in
obtaining funds from outside bodies to support the attendance of members
from developing countries at IAHS symposia and assemblies. These funds
have been generously donated since 1991 by UNESCO, WMO, UNEP, IAEA, Rotary
International, IUGG and ICSU, as well as by a number of private trusts and
organisations and by government agencies, including those in Canada,
France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden,
Switzerland, the UK and the USA. The UKĺs Department for International
Development (DFID) has been very supportive of the Association for a
number of years.
The six billion or more people on this planet now
depend on the worldĺs finite supply of freshwater, but before 2050 there
will be two or three million more with even greater needs. Water for
drinking, food production, sanitation, power, navigation and a host of
other purposes is the basis of civilisation. But at present more than one
billion only have water unsafe to drink, and over two billion lack proper
sanitation. Hundreds of millions live in places where water is very
scarce, a contested resource and where the recurring dangers of floods and
droughts may be exacerbated by climate change.
The equitable and sustainable allocation of water
resources and the prediction and mitigation of the impacts of extreme
events must be based on the comprehensive understanding of these resources
gained through cooperation amongst hydrologists and others professionally
involved, and through cooperation and solidarity amongst nations. IAHS is
a prime medium for maintaining this cooperation.
about IAHS and the IAHS Commissions is available from the IAHS web site:
information about IAHS contact:
information about IAHS International Commissions contact their
ICSW, Surface Water
ICCE, Continental Erosion
ICSI, Snow and Ice
ICWQ, Water Quality
ICWRS, Water Resources Systems
ICRS, Remote Sensing
ICASVR, Atmosphere-Soil-Vegetation Relations
Elections Sapporo 2003
The Nomination Panel (for the Bureau and for ICSW, ICGW, ICWQ, ICWRS, ICASVR and ICT) and the Nominations Groups of ICSI, ICCE and ICRS have now completed their work and N.J. Peters, Chairman of the Nomination Panel, has established the following table, containing the current list of nominees with nomination panel/group endorsement.