Contributed by Jutta Thielen, Maria-Helena Ramos and the HEPEX co-chairs
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Ad de Roo passed away on 26 September 2022 after having lost his month-long battle against serious illness.
Ad studied physical geography, environmental science and tropical soil science and obtained a PhD from the University of Utrecht in 1993. He has developed much of his professional career at the European Commission Joint Research Centre where he started in 1997 in the natural hazards team as expert for flood related research. With close contacts to the hydrological research community and the possibility to recruit a dynamic team, he pro-actively changed the European landscape of hydrological research and its applications, in particular for large-scale modelling of water quantity. His models LISEM, LISFLOOD and LISQUAL are used for hydrological research and applications worldwide. LISFLOOD covers floodplain modelling, flood forecasting at river basin or continental and global scale, and the model has been used to study the long term effects of climate change on water management.
When the Elbe and Danube floods hit Europe in 2002, the European Flood Forecasting System (EFFS) project, an FPV European project, was nearing its end. Ad seized the opportunity and convinced the European Commission of the benefit that continental flood forecasting would bring to improving European Civil Protection. He succeeded and thus initiated the European Flood Awareness Systems that now runs operationally under the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) since 10 years, contributing to better preparedness in Europe. Later, he pushed for a Global system and also GloFAS is running successfully under CEMS.
In fact, the idea of the HEPEX network was born when John Schaake attended the final EFFS workshop in Brussels in 2003. In 2004, the HEPEX initiative was kicked off between NOAA, ECMWF and JRC in Reading and delivers on asking the right questions, sharing research results, and improving our knowledge on the hydrological processes.
Over the last years, Ad was leading and steering the ambitious JRC Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem NEXUS, an activity that was greatly relying on Ad’s integrating and inspiring power. His work on water – droughts, floods, usage for agriculture – has translated into policy options and had great impact, also and particularly, in the context of the climate change crisis we are facing.
While working at the science-policy interface at the JRC, Ad also actively engaged with academia. As professor at the University of Utrecht, Faculty of Geosciences, he lectured in the field of Physical Geography, Hazards and Impacts, generating new generations of aspiring scientists and bringing fresh ideas into JRC. His publications and citation record speak for themselves.
Throughout his career Ad inspired many colleagues with his enthusiasm and drive, and he created an atmosphere of trust and freedom for his team, allowing colleagues to flourish and make the best of their skills for our institution.