EGU honors Harry Vereecken

(Photo: EGU)(Photo: EGU)Professor Harry Vereecken, director at the Institute of Agrosphere at Forschungszentrum Jülich, received the Alfred Wegener Medal, one of the highest honors awarded by the European Geosciences Union (EGU). At the same time, the organisation appointed him an honorary member. With the medal, the EGU recognizes Vereecken’s groundbreaking contributions to soil-plant-atmosphere processes with a focus on hydrological and biochemical cycles.


According to the EGU, Vereecken has played a key role in integrating and connecting the individual sub-processes and sub-disciplines. He recognized early on the need for exploring subsurface flow processes by geophysical methods. With his studies, he expanded knowledge of transport processes in heterogeneous soils, both hydrologically and in the transport of contaminants. Using soil moisture, pore pressure, and other variables, he developed modeling approaches for improved knowledge of soil properties. This includes the development of upscaling techniques to link local field measurements with environmental models and satellite observations. In 2016, he and some colleagues founded the International Soil Modeling Consortium (ISMC) with the goal of improving soil process modeling, pooling expertise, and increasing exchange with other Earth system sciences.


Harry Vereecken has also been instrumental in strengthening the observational data base – for example, through the TERENO initative, of which he is one of the founding fathers. TERENO, the EGU says, has become a blueprint for large-scale European and global infrastructures for research on ecology, critical zones and global climate. For example, it paved the way for eLTER RI (European Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and socio-ecological Research Infrastructure), a European infrastructure for long-term ecosystem research, whose concept Harry Vereecken helped design.