Hydrological Sciences

Timeline of historical highlights of the EGU Hydrological Sciences Division

Timeline of historical highlights of the EGU Hydrological Sciences Division

Do you know when the Hydrological Sciences Division had their first Early Career Scientist representative? Or who the division president was in 2016?

Check the answers below, where we list these and other historical highlights over almost 20 years of the Hydrological Sciences (HS) Division.

Overall, the most striking fact is certainly the steady growth and diversification of the community and the group of volunteers who help organize the division’s activities and scientific programme of each annual EGU General Assembly.

Enjoy reading (and if you see any missing or incorrect information, just type a comment in the comment box at the bottom of this post) or write to us.

A table with the names of the scientific officers involved in planning the annual EGU General Assemblies, including subdivision chairs, can be found here: TIMELINE-OFFICERS. If names are missing/wrong, let us know. We will update this blog post accordingly.

Timeline highlights


The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is established in September 2002. It merges the European Geophysical Society (EGS), founded in 1971, and the European Union of Geosciences (EUG), founded in 1981. Günter Blöschl, who will lead the Hydrological Sciences Division until 2007, is among the EGU founding members.

Did you know that…?

The EUG used to hold biannual meetings in Strasbourg (starting in 1981), while the EGS had annual meetings in different European cities from 1973 to 1999 and in Nice, France, after 2000.


The joint EGS-AGU-EUG Assembly takes place in Nice, France, with 10,980 participants. The final stages of the transition to the European Geosciences Union (EGU) are completed on 31 December 2003.

The EGU is a signatory of the 2003 Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

Günter Blöschl, the then president of the Hydrological Sciences Division, started the Young Scientist Outstanding Poster Paper Award initiative at the Division. Jan Seibert is its first coordinator.

Did you know that…?

Initially, the Young Scientist Outstanding Poster Paper Award was run for the Hydrological Sciences Division only (see here the first awardees in 2003). The concept was gradually adopted by other EGU Divisions. Participation increased from 3 divisions in 2005 to 13 divisions in 2009 and 20 divisions in 2010. Today, all divisions run the award competition. Günter Blöschl and Jan Seibert were later awarded the 2009 and 2007 Union Service Awards, respectively, in recognition of their services in promoting the participation and proper recognition of young scientists.


The first EGU General Assembly takes place on 25-30 April in Nice, France, with 6,297 participants.

The HS Division’s Journal, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, becomes an open-access journal, the first of its kind in hydrology. Other journals will follow in the years to come.

Did you know that…?

Participation in the EGU General Assembly (GA) meetings has increased from about 6,000 in the first GA in 2004 to about 16,000 in the last in-person GA in 2019. The record of participation (so far) has been for the first Online GA in 2020, with over 22,000 registered participants (if it had happened in Vienna, it would have almost filled the meeting center’s total capacity of up to 22,800 people).


The EGU General Assembly moves to Vienna, where it has been held ever since, at the Austria Center Vienna in the Vienna International Centre. The Hydrological Sciences programme, coordinated by Günter Blöschl and Gerrit de Rooij, displays 42 scientific sessions (in 2021, the Division will reach 99 sessions in the programme).

Andreas Güntner is the coordinator of the Young Scientists Outstanding Poster Paper Award for the Hydrological Sciences Division for the period 2005-2008. He was later coordinator of the same activity at the Union level and was awarded the Union Service Award in 2011 for his dedication.


The HS programme committee officially displays 11 members. Together, they again organized about 40 scientific sessions during the 2016 General Assembly in April in Vienna.

Alberto Montanari is elected HS Division President for the period 2007-2009.

Did you know that…?

Among the 11 members of the 2006 HS Programme Committee, there was one woman, Professor Sue White, who sadly passed away too soon in 2014. She was professor of Integrated Catchment Management at Cranfield University, and is remembered for her passion for ecosystem management and valuing water.


EGU launches an online open access geosciences image repository, called imaggeo. Images related to Hydrological Sciences can be downloaded here.


The Hydrological Sciences programme of the 2008 EGU General Assembly is coordinated by Alberto Montanari, who is re-elected as HS Division President for the period 2009-2011.

Thom Bogaard joins the coordination of the Young Scientists Outstanding Poster Paper Award for the HS Division, for the period 2008-2010.


The HS community is growing fast: from an average of about 40 sessions led by the division in the past four EGU General Assemblies (2005 – 2008), the programme displays 63 scientific sessions in 2009. It is structured with 11 topical groups: Hydrological Sciences Visionary Sessions; Hydrological Sciences General Sessions; Groundwater; Unsaturated Zone; Catchment Hydrology; Water Policy and Management; Remote Sensing and Data Assimilation; Precipitation and Climate; Ecohydrology, Wetlands and Estuaries; Hydrological Forecasting; Erosion, Sedimentation and River Processes. This structure is basically the same we have today in the HS subdivisions.

Did you know that…?

The first course on “How to write (and publish) a scientific paper in hydrology” is organized at the General Assembly in 2009 (session convened by F. Laio and S. Tamea). The course is proposed as a seminar given by Professor Jeffrey McDonnell. The Young Hydrologic Society keeps track of all courses given since then, making the presentations available through their website.

The number of abstracts has also increased: there were 1,752 abstracts in the HS Division programme in 2013, while the General Assembly gathered 2,380 abstracts in 2020, when the meeting had to be moved fully online due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.


Officers are now officially assigned to each HS subdivision in the EGU General Assembly programme. In addition to the 11 existing subdivisions, a new one on Hydroinformatics is taking shape.

Gerrit de Rooij is elected HS Division President for the period 2011-2013. Previously, he was a member of the HS programme group and programme group chair for 2010-2011.

EGU launches the Union’s official blog, shortly before the 2010 General Assembly.


The programme of the Hydrological Sciences Division experiences some changes: the subdivision on Hydroinformatics runs officially with two sessions during the General Assembly in Vienna. The subdivisions on Visionary Sessions and General Sessions are merged under ‘HS1 – General sessions’, which hosts also sessions on monitoring and innovative measurement techniques. The subdivisions on Groundwater and Unsaturated Zone are put together in one subdivision: Subsurface hydrology. Two subdivisions slightly change their names: Ecohydrology, Limnology and Estuaries; Water Management, Operations and Control.

The Outstanding Student Poster Award for the HS Division is coordinated by Theresa Blume and Bettina Schaefli, for the period 2011-2013.

Günter Blöschl is elected EGU (Union-wide) President for the period 2013-2015. Previously, he was Division President for Hydrological Sciences (until 2007).

Did you know that…?

The person elected in Year_i (for instance, 2011) to serve as EGU President for the term running from Year_i+2 (2013) to Year_i+4 (2015) is inaugurated during the Year_i+1 (2012) EGU plenary meeting in Vienna, Austria, serving first as the EGU Vice-President (President-Elect) for one year. The elected candidate will then serve as EGU President for two years and finally as Vice-President (Past-President) for the fourth year. All terms start and end at the Plenary held during the General Assembly. More on EGU by-laws can be found here.


Several subdivisions welcome new officers. Elena Toth becomes chair of the subdivision on Hydrological Forecasting, and is the second woman to integrate the HS Programme Committee in its history.

Gerrit de Rooij is re-elected HS Division President for the period 2013-2015.


The EGU General Assembly introduces for the very first time the PICO (Presenting Interactive Content).

At the Hydrological Sciences Division, Miriam Coenders and Laurent Pfister are the new coordinators for the HS Short Courses. Miriam Coenders also takes the role of webmaster for the HS website pages, in coordination with EGU Office (responsibility that she holds until today). Theresa Blume and Bettina Schaefli are the coordinators of the renamed Outstanding Student Poster Award for the period 2013-2014.

The Young Hydrologic Society kick-off meeting is held at the 2013 General Assembly. Founded in October 2012, their ambition is to create a platform for early-career scientists within hydrological sciences, targeting career stages from MSc, PhD to Postdoc. Wouter Berghuijs is the contact point and becomes the first ECS representative for the Hydrological Sciences Division. He will hold this position until 2015.

Did you know that…?

PICO sessions gradually became very popular at the EGU General Assemblies. With 452 PICO presentations in 2013, the format became a success and reached 1,287 PICO presentations in the 2019 General Assembly. In the online vEGU21 General Assembly in 2021, all scientific sessions ran in a new virtual PICO (vPICO) format, which was modelled after the interactive touchscreen PICO presentations used at in-person EGU General Assemblies. PICO orals are often kindly referred to the “2-min PICO madness”.


The Division joins Twitter in January 2014 @EGU_HS. EGU blogs are moved to blogs.egu.eu (the HS Division will launch its blog later in 2019).

Peter van Oevelen is Outreach Committee Representative for the period 2014-2015. The Outstanding Student Poster Award for the HS Division is coordinated by Theresa Blume and Ilja van Meerveld. The subdivision on Water Policy and Management is renamed.

Elena Toth is elected HS Division President for the period 2015-2017. She is the first woman to be elected HS Division president. Previously, she was chair of the subdivision on Hydrological Forecasting (2012-2015).

Did you know that…?

Representation of women in the Hydrological Sciences Division and gender imbalance among the Division’s officers have long been a concern. In the Minutes of the 2013 Hydrological Sciences meeting, one reads that “[a]fter the meeting is adjourned one participant expresses her distress regarding the underrepresentation of females in HS invited speakers.” (archive since 2013). In 2014, a discussion on gender balance in hydrology was held during the Division business meeting at the General Assembly in Vienna, prompted by the absence of women in the division ‘s awards and medals committees. Bettina Schaefli reflected on this issue in a post published in May 2014 in the HEPEX Blog, which received several comments posted also online in the blog. Around the years 2012-2014, participation of women in different roles and activities of the Hydrological Sciences Division began to increase.


Gerrit de Rooij, past HS Division president (2011-2015), is nominated EGU Programme Committee Chair. He will coordinate the EGU General Assembly programme at the Union level for the period 2015-2017.

Laurent Pfister is the Programme Committee Chair for the Hydrological Sciences Division. Ilja van Meerveld and Julian Klaus become coordinators of the expanded Outstanding Student Poster and PICO (OSPP) Award for the period 2015-2016.

Shaun Harrigan becomes HS Division Early Career Scientists (ECS) representative for the period 2015-2017. Wouter Berghuijs, previously ECS representative for the HS Division, becomes ECS representative at the Union level.


In March 2016, the EGU endorsed Open Access 2020, an initiative to promote the large-scale transition from subscription to open access publishing.

At the Union level, the number of short courses offered during the annual General Assembly has significantly increased (from 2 courses offered in 2007 to about 60 in 2016) and specific officers are now assigned to their organization, in close cooperation with the divisions’ programme group chairs.

An Outreach and Communication Division Committee is established for the HS Division, represented by Laurent Pfister, Wouter Berghuijs, Maria-Helena Ramos and Miriam Coenders, for the period 2016-2018. In the period 2015-2016, 5 out of 10 topical subdivision chairs in the Hydrological Sciences Division are women. The subdivision on Ecohydrology, Wetlands & Estuaries is renamed.

In November, Elena Toth is re-elected HS Division President for the period 2017-2019.


Julian Klaus and Luisa Hopp become the coordinators of the Outstanding Student Poster and PICO (OSPP) Award for the period 2017-2019. Nilay Dogulu becomes HS Division ECS representative for the period 2017-2019.

Two hydrologists are elected in the EGU Autumn elections in November:

      • Maria-Helena Ramos is elected HS Division President for the period 2019-2021. Previously, she was chair of the subdivision on Hydrological Forecasting (2016-2018).
      • Alberto Montanari is elected EGU (Union-wide) President for the period 2019-2021. Previously, he was Division President for Hydrological Sciences (2007-2011).

Did you know that…?

Until 2017, elections for Division Presidents were carried out in even years. On April 2017, the Council decided that each newly elected Division President would serve as Deputy President for the first year, then as Division President for the next two years. In order to fit the calendar for transitions, elections were held a year earlier, in November 2017, and, since then, they are held every odd year, always during the month of November.


In autumn, EGU Council established the ‘Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion’ EDI working group, with the aim to strenghten the promotion and support of equality, diversity, and inclusion in the Earth, planetary, and space sciences, with a focus on EGU activities. The topic was already being discussed at the EGU General Assemblies since 2016, with the organizaton of the session ‘Promoting and supporting equality of opportunities in geosciences‘.


Due to the increasing number of participants in the General Assemblies, approaching the maximum capacity of rooms and poster areas, oral and poster sessions begin to be scheduled in parallel in 2019 (previously, poster sessions were all held in the evening).

At the HS Division, the ‘General hydrology’ group is divided into two: ‘Innovative sensors and monitoring in hydrology’ and ‘Cross-cutting hydrological sessions’. The subdivision on Water policy, management and control is renamed. The subdivision on Catchment Hydrology has increased in size and number of sessions and it is decided to assign two chairs to help with its organization, as was already the case for the subdivision on Subsurface Hydrology.

Caitlyn Hall becomes HS Division ECS representative for the period 2019-2021.

The Hydrological Sciences Division inaugurates its Blog Editorial Team and publishes its first blog post in March 2019. The Editorial team consists of: Matthias Sprenger (main editor, 2019-2020), Bettina Schaefli, Giulia Zuecco, Wouter Berghuijs and Maria-Helena Ramos. They join the Outreach and Communication Division Committee.

EGU adopts a new set of strategic priorities to guide the work of the Union’s Council, committees and staff through 2025.

Maria-Helena Ramos is re-elected HS Division President for the period 2019-2023.


First fully online EGU General Assembly: Sharing Geoscience Online. The HS Division Business meeting was held entirely on text-only chat, with 205 connections to the meeting chat room. Due to novelty of the online context, medal and award lectures as well as OSPP Awards were postponed to 2021.

The General Assembly was open to everyone under free registration. The HS Blog Editorial team marked this extraordinary GA experience in the blog post “Chatting about science and hydrology at EGU GA 2020”.

Andreas Hartmann joins Luisa Hopp as coordinators of the Outstanding Student Poster and PICO Award for the period 2020-2022. Bettina Schaefli becomes the main editor of the HS Blog.

Due to the large number of activities and workload for Early Career Scientists, it is agreed to overlap ECS terms during a one-year transition period. This means that every year the community elects a new ECS Rep, and two co-Reps are in charge of the ECS-related activities of the Division. Early 2020, Sina Khatami is elected HS Division ECS co-Rep for the period 2020-2022.

Did you know that…?

On 11 February 2020, the EGU programme committee held a meeting in Rome, Italy. It was the ‘normal’ annual meeting planned to finalize the schedule of all the 701 scientific sessions that had received abstracts for the 2020 General Assembly. We were already talking about COVID-19, but it was something very different at that time; we were still travelling and meeting without constraints. The Programme committee had thus prepared an entire on-site GA programme to be held in Vienna in April 2020 when the pandemic escalated and, by beginning of March 2020, lockdowns started in Europe. We had about six weeks to change the format to an online alternative. As mentioned in the paper later written by Hazel Gibson, Sam Illingworth and Susanne Buiter, COVID-19 “has perhaps forced a change that might not have otherwise occurred”. Susanne Buiter, who was the Programme Committee chair at the Union level for the period (2017-2020), later received the 2022 Union Service Award for her commitment.


EGU announces a new Science for Policy Working Group “to create new science for policy opportunities and highlight upcoming EU-wide policies of relevance to EGU members”.

The second fully online EGU General Assembly takes place: #vEGU21: Engage • Discover • Inspire. For the first time, EGU held a 2-week General Assembly, with events also happening in the week previous to the scientific sessions. A new format is proposed, with possibility for videos and chat. Also for the first time, following a bottom-up initiative, EGU award sessions with an EDI logo when a team of conveners fulfills specific EDI criteria: conveners from multiple countries and institutes, different career stages, and more than one form of gender identity.

Two blog posts published in the Hydrological Sciences Blog share insights about the preparation of and feedback from the General Assembly: Getting hydrologically ready for #vEGU21 Gather Online and Post #vEGU21 hydrological reflections.

Did you know that…?

Although fully held online, vEGU21 numbers followed the tendency of an increasing participation of the geosciences community through time: 18,172 scientists from 135 countries attended 13,643 live presentations in 642 scientific sessions, 5 Union Symposia, 5 Great Debates, 32 Medal and Award Lectures sessions, and 56 Short Courses. A breakdown of the original format planned for the vPICOs occurred on Monday morning of the second week of the meeting, which was followed by a rapid establishment of a new format, with official apologies released by EGU to all impacted conveners and attendees.

In November 2021, Alberto Viglione is elected HS Division President for the period 2023-2025. Previously, he was chair of the subgroup on Catchment Hydrology (2020-2021).

For a smoother transition in these surprising times, the HS Blog publishes on What EGU Division presidents actually do within EGU (an impressive year-around agenda) and on the challenges ahead within today’s landscape of scientific General Assemblies.

The @EGU_HS twitter account reaches 6,000 followers (they were 1,000 in August 2016).

Elena Cristiano is elected ECS co-Rep for the Hydrological Sciences Division for the period 2021-2023.

Did you know that…?

There is no formal Union-wide election procedure for Early Career Scientists Representatives (ECS Rep), although general guidelines exist. The current procedure adopted in the Hydrological Sciences Division was agreed in 2019. An open call for candidates takes place between February/March preceding the EGU General Assembly. Candidates are invited to send a 200 word ‘vision statement’ for the role along with a 2-page CV. A short-list of 2-3 candidates is made after consultation with the Young Hydrological Society and EGU HS ECS members. The final ECS Rep is selected by the outgoing HS ECS Rep and the Division President. The newly appointed ECS Rep must be announced at the annual Division meeting during the General Assembly. The ECS Rep is expected to hold the position for a 2-year term, with a one-year of overlap with both incoming and outgoing reps for a smooth transition.


Vienna or not Vienna? On the way to #EGU22”. Immediately following the abstract submission deadline in January, the EGU Programme Committee had to face a difficult decision given the restrictions imposed by the Austrian government due to COVID-19 by the beginning of 2022. An important announcement was released on 19 January 2022: the date of the hybrid General Assembly EGU22 was moved to 23-27 May 2022, and a unique format of ‘short orals’ was implemented. As already initially foreseen, the EGU22 General Assembly is planned as a hybrid meeting, with on-site sessions/events and a virtual online component.

The programme for the Hydrological Sciences Division is finalized with 99 scientific sessions. For the first time, a group of sessions is brought together under the title ‘Hydrological Sciences for Policy and Society’.

Did you know that…?

EGU has promoted and implemented several measures to move towards greener General Assemblies. Efforts made to tackle key challenges emerging from large onsite conferences have now incorporated reflections also for online conferences. Hazel Gibson, Head of Communications at the European Geosciences Union, addresses this issue in a recent blog post: vEGU21 to GreenEGU ’22: what can we learn from a fully digital conference?

There is much more about the Hydrological Sciences Division. Many more volunteers have put energy and efforts into its activities in the past years (conveners and co-conveners, awards and medals committees, topical event organizers, publication editors, etc.). We could not mention all the names here, but everyone’s contribution, however small, has been important. In these unusual times, we hope these lines will highlight the division’s history as a big family, and will contribute to keep our community spirit truly inspiring.

We look forward to seeing you in May at the EGU22 General Assembly!

Acknowledgments: Many thanks to all those who contributed reviewing and commenting on the content of this post (past HS Presidents and officers and EGU Office).

Contact us if you want to volunteer to one of the HS Division activities, subscribe to our mailing list, and join us on Twitter.


Maria-Helena Ramos is a research scientist in hydrology and hydrometeorology at the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) in France. She was the president of the EGU Hydrological Sciences Division from 2019 to 2023.

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