Becker, Alfred

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Alfred Becker


Alfred Becker 12.12.1934 (Magdeburg, Germany) - 18.8.2010 (Potsdam, Germany)


Alfred Becker was trained in the “Dresden School” of Hydrology in East Germany which had international recognition. He was co-author of a classic hydrology textbook (“Angewandte Hydrologie”) is still widely used at German Universities. His last, unfinished work was a historical treatise of water management modelling in East Germany. He was a staff member of the Potsdam Institute for Climatology (PIK) nearly from the beginning of the Insitute and the present international position of PIK in water sciences owes much to Alfred’s long-term efforts.

During the 1990s, Alfred Becker was mostly active internationally, at the UNESCO in Paris and later as deputy chair of the international research programme Biospheric Aspects of the Hydrological Cycle (BAHC). He also contributed to several reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In 2000, the German ministry for education and research (BMBF) launched the most ambitious project ever about the possible impact of climate change on environment and society in the Elbe catchment, the GLOWA-Elbe project. Alfred Becker was the initiator of this consortium of about 20 institutes and 100 collaborators and remained its director well beyond his retirement.

A characteristic of Alfred Becker was that he wanted to embark on new topics even near the end of his career. He was a notorious optimist, failure just did not appear as a possible scenario for him. Where others weighed different options, he had already taken the initiative. And he could engage and involve people - in a charming but also a firm and persistent way.

He was active in IAHS since early 1970s, attending many symposia and workshops, collaborating with Journal editors, and holding offices, such as Vice-President of ICASVAR in 1995-1999. He was also active in other streams of international hydrology, under the aegis of UNESCO, the IGBP’s Biospheric Aspects of the Hydrological Cycle (BAHC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

Alfred Becker has advanced the integrative approach in hydrology substantially, both at the Potsdam Institute, but also on the international scene. His passion concerned the Elbe catchment in Germany and the Czech Republic – but he also worked in mountain catchments worldwide. To him, integrative research meant considering water not just as a topic of hydrology, but to include socio-economic and ecological aspects, in particular aspects connected with climate change. He contributed to the development of models of flow and water quality in large scale basins, and to assessing the impact of climate and land use change on catchment response and flood magnitudes.

Reference Material[edit]

Source: PIK obituary

Source: [file:///Users/beven/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems/Outlook%20Temp/obituaries/Becker.htm IAHS obituary]

Major Publications[edit]


S Dyck; A Becker, 1980, Angewandte hydrologie. Tl. 2, Der wasserhaushalt der flussgebiete. Ernst: Berlin


Krysanova, V., Becker, A. and Müller-Wohlfeil, D.I., 1996. Integrated modelling of hydrology and water quality in mesoscale watersheds. Potsdam-Inst. für Klimafolgenforschung.

Krysanova, V., Becker, A. and Klöcking, B., 1998. The linkage between hydrological processes and sediment transport at river basin scale. IAHS PUBLICATION, pp.13-20.

Krysanova, V., Gerten, D., Klöcking, B. and Becker, A., 1999. Factors affecting nitrogen export from diffuse sources: a modelling study in the Elbe basin. IAHS PUBLICATION, pp.201-212.

Krysanova, V., Wechsung, F., Becker, A., Poschenrieder, W. and Gräfe, J., 1999. Mesoscale ecohydrological modelling to analyse regional effects of climate change. Environmental modeling & assessment, 4(4), pp.259-271.

Krysanova, V. and Becker, A., 1999. Integrated modelling of hydrological processes and nutrient dynamics at the river basin scale. Hydrobiologia, 410, pp.131-138.

Lahmer, W., Becker, A., Mueller-Wohlfeil, D.I. and Pfuetzner, B., 1999. A GIS-based approach for regional hydrological modelling. IAHS Publication(International Association of Hydrological Sciences), (254), pp.33-43.

Lahmer, W., Pfützner, B. and Becker, A., 2000, Data-related uncertainties in meso-and macroscale hydrological modelling. In Accuracy 2000. Proceedings of the 4th international symposium on spatial accuracy assessment in natural resources and environmental sciences. Amsterdam (pp. 389-396).

Lahmer, W., Pfützner, B. and Becker, A., 2000. Influences of environmental changes on regional flood events. In Proceedings of the European conference on advances in flood research. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) Report (No. 65).

Lahmer, W., Pfützner, B. and Becker, A., 2001. Assessment of land use and climate change impacts on the mesoscale. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Part B: Hydrology, Oceans and Atmosphere, 26(7), pp.565-575.

Becker, A., Klöcking, B., Lahmer, W., Pfützner, B. (2002): The Hydrological Modelling System ARC/EGMO. In: Mathematical Models of Large Watershed Hydrology (Eds.: Singh, V.P. and Frevert, D.K.).Water Resources Publications, Littleton/Colorado. 891pp. ISBN 1-887201-34-3,

Becker, A. and Grunewald, U., 2003. Flood risk in central Europe. Science, 300(5622), p.1099.