Aiguo Dai Receives 2012 International Surface Water Prize

The Surface Water Prize of the 5th Award of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) was awarded to Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth (left; National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA) and Dr. Aiguo Dai (right; Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, SUNY, USA) on September 27, 2012 in Riyadh. The bi-annual PSIPW aims to give recognition to the efforts that scientists, inventors, and research organizations around the world are making in water related fields. PSIPW acknowledges exceptional and innovative work which contributes to the sustainable availability of potable water and the alleviation of the escalating global problem of water scarcity. The award includes a cash prize of half million Riyals (~$133,000).

The prize was awarded to Dr. Trenberth and Dr. Dai for ground-breaking work that provides a powerful estimate of the effects of climate change on the global hydrological cycle, with a clear explanation of the global water budget.

If we are going to talk about hydrology in the 21st century, and the challenges hydrologists face, clearly the overwhelming challenge is to understand hydrologic variability, and the likely impact on hydrology of anticipated climate change. Dr. Kevin Trenberth and Dr. Aiguo Dai have made a unique contribution through the investigation of climate variability and trends in the past, and through the use of models and other creative efforts to reconstruct river discharge into the oceans across the planet for almost 1000 river basins. They use climate models to understand likely changes in the future and the uncertainty associated with those predictions, and explain their findings using such popular indicators as the Palmer drought severity index. As a result, they have provided an exemplary account of the global water budget that is being used in textbooks and encyclopedias.

They have made pioneering contributions to understanding the past with real data, and evaluating the future prospects within the context of what we know of the global climate and hydrology. They have provided a much better understanding of hydrologic responses to climate change, which in turn will provide tremendous guidance for future planning.

Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences