Eric F. Wood
The 2014 Alfred Wegener Medal & Honorary Membership is awarded to Eric F. Wood for his pioneering contributions to hydrology and to its interactions with meteorology and climate change, in particular to developing widely used large-scale hydrological models and applications of remote sensing and of land data assimilation methods to help improve surface energy and moisture forecasts.
Eric Wood is famous for his work in hydrology, extending into meteorology and climate science. In the late 1980s, he led the development of a new area of research associated with determining the scaling behaviour of catchment hydrologic response. In a series of papers with Sivapalan, Beven and others he introduced the ‘representative elemental area’ concept, where catchment response could be represented in terms of building blocks of some minimum size. Wood also developed spatially distributed hydrologic modelling, which included the handling of energy, as well as moisture transfer dynamics at the land surface. Some of this work was facilitated by the land-atmosphere field campaigns of the 1980s. Beginning in the early 1990s, many of these concepts were included in the ‘variable infiltration capacity’ macro-scale hydrology model, which is now used in a wide array of hydrologic prediction, water and energy balance, and ensemble forecasting applications.
Beginning in the late 1980s, with the initiation of the interdisciplinary science teams in support of NASA’s Earth Observing System missions, Wood saw the potential (and necessity) for use of remote sensing data in the context of global scale land surface water and energy predictions. He was instrumental in the early use of remote sensing for estimation of large area surface energy fluxes, and more recently in the development of land data assimilation methods for updating surface energy and moisture forecasts.
Wood has been one of the initial bridge builders between the hydrological and meteorological science communities and was amongst the pioneers who revolutionised hydrology by using remote sensing efficiently. As a hydrologic researcher, educator and as an influential leader, Wood has provided an important linkage between atmospheric processes and their impact on hydrologic phenomena and, in turn, on water resources at the regional level.