Surface Water Prize - 8th Award


Dr. Wilfried Brutsaert (Cornell University, USA).

Dr. Brutsaert’s work develops, demonstrates, and validates a new theory that can generate unprecedented estimates of evaporation from the natural landscape, with successful applications in numerous locations. Evaporation is one of the most complex of all hydrologic processes, and its accurate estimation is a continuous challenge for hydrologists. His method, using the nonlinear complementary principle, can be implemented with standard weather data without the need for less common and often complicated measurements. He has demonstrated that his method produces accurate results and can be applied over large-scale areas in various types of terrain.

Winner Profile

Dr. Wilfried Brutsaert

Dr. Blöschl is Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources and Head of the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management at the Vienna University of Technology.


• 1962 - Ph.D. University of California, Davis, (Engineering w/ Math and Physics)
• 1960 - M.S., University of California, Davis, (Irrigation Engineering)
• 1958 - B.Eng. Ghent University, Belgium, (Water & Soil Engineering)

Selected Awards:

2015 - Bowie Medal, American Geophysical Union
2012 - James and Mary Tien Excellence in Teaching Award, Cornell University
2008 - Hydrology Days Award, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
2005 - JSPS Award for Eminent Scientist, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
2003 - Jule G. Charney Award, American Meteorological Society
2002 - International Award, Japan Society of Hydrology & Water Resources
1999 - Robert E. Horton Medal, American Geophysical Union
1995 - Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award, University of California, Davis
1995 - Honorary Doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa), Ghent University
1993 - Ray K. Linsley Award, American Institute of Hydrology
1988 - Hydrologic Sciences Award, American Geophysical Union

Acceptance Speech

unhq300x300It would definitely be a major understatement if I were to say that I was “pleased” and “happy” when I learned that I had been selected for this year’s Surface Water Prize by the Council of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water Organization.

Indeed, water is the most crucial natural resource which we need for just about everything in our lives, and without which life itself on Earth is utterly impossible. Clearly, the criticality of research and technical advances related to water in all its aspects, and the concomitant recognition of contributions in the science of water, can hardly be overstated.

In this light, I have to admit that as I’m standing here now, I have some difficulty finding the right words to formulate my actual feelings. So, let me just simply say, thank you very much to express my deep and sincere gratitude to the members of the PSIPW Council, and its Chair, Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, for their trust and confidence in the work my associates and I have performed within the past five years.

Wilfried Brutsaert

Winning Work

[1] Brutsaert, W. (2015). A generalized complementary principle with physical constraints for land-surface evaporation, Water Resources Research, 51, 8087–8093. doi:10.1002/2015WR017720.

[2] Liu, X., C. Liu, and W. Brutsaert. (2016). Regional evaporation estimates in the eastern monsoon region of China: Assessment of a nonlinear formulation of the complementary principle, Water Resources Research, 52, 9511-9521. doi:10.1002/2016WR019340.

[3] Brutsaert, W., W. Li, A. Takahashi, T. Hiyama, L. Zhang, and W. Z.. (2017). Nonlinear advection-aridity method for landscape evaporation and its application during the growing season in the southern Loess Plateau of the Yellow River basin, Water Resources Research, 53, 270-282. doi:1002/2016WR019472.

[4] Brutsaert, W. (2013). Use of pan evaporation to estimate terrestrial evaporation trends: The case of the Tibetan Plateau, Water Resources Research, 49, 3054-3058. doi:10.1002/wrcr.20247.

[5] Brutsaert, W. (2017). Global land surface evaporation trend during the past half century: Corroboration by Clausius-Clapeyron scaling, Advances in Water Resources, 106, 3-5.

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