Cappus, Pierre

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Pierre Cappus

Pierre Cappus as a young man, © Collections École Polytechnique (Palaiseau, France)

Click here to access information on Cappus in French]


Pierre Roger CAPPUS 15/01/1927 (Pech d'Angely, Cahors, Lot, France) - 17/03/2002 (Saint-Cézert, Haute-Garonne, France)


Pierre Cappus was the 4th of 5 children of Roger Alban Élie Pierre Cappus (1889-1968) and Thirza Cécile Jeanne Chapat (1889-1954). His father was Director of the Lime and Cement Factory at Pech d'Angely at Cahors.

He was educated at the Lycée Gambetta in Cahors, and Lycée Louis le Grand in Paris before being admitted to the École Polytechnique in 1946. In 1946/7 he spent his military service in the 12th Engineer Regiment at Speier (D). He graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1949.

He then spent his entire career within the Research and Development Directorate of Électricité de France (EDF), initially in the Centre for Research at Chatou (CREC) in Yvelines, and then in the Centre "Les Renardières" created in 1964 by EDF at Écuelles in Seine-et-Marne. He was initially recruited to the Hydrology Division at Chatou, then in 1958 moved to the "Bâtiment et installations fixes" Division in the "Administration générale et travaux" Service, where he was made Chief of the Division in 1960. In 1969 he became Director of the Works Department with responsibility for heating and air conditioning in large residential developments. In 1971 he became Technical Consultant for Electricity Applications at EDF until his retirement in 1985.

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

The hydrological career of Pierre Cappus was rather brief (1949-1960) and he published rather little in the field.

His 7 main publications deal with understand of the hydrology and water balance of the small catchment of the [Alrance], in particular:

- Rainfall and its local variability (Cappus, 1957, 1958; Réméniéras et Cappus, 1956)

- Evapotranspiration and the estimation of actual evapotranspiration (Cappus, 1954, 1955)

- Discharge, floods, runoff generation on variable saturated areas (Cappus, 1953, 1960), including in 1960 the innovative concept of the variable contributing area.

Cappus appears to have served as a member of the Comité Technique de la Société Hydrotechnique de France (SHF) from 1949 to 1960. It was during the committee meeting of 17-18 March1960 that he presented orally his variable contributing area concepts to the Society, although he had by then already left the Hydrology Division of EDF. He was then aged 33.

Reference Material[edit]

Biographical information provided by Bruno Ambroise (CNRS, Strasbourg)

Part of Cappus (1960) is reproduced in Beven, K J, 2006, Surface Runoff Generation, [IAHS Benchmark Papers Series]

Major Publications[edit]


CAPPUS P., 1953: Le calcul des crues: Résultats obtenus sur le terrain expérimental d'Alrance. La Houille Blanche N° spécial A:159-167

CAPPUS P., 1954: Étude de l’évapotranspiration sur un bassin de faible étendue. AIHS Assemblée Générale de Rome, 1954. Publications IAHS 38:177-187

CAPPUS P., 1955: Étude des pertes par évapotranspiration à l'échelle mensuelle. In Société Hydrotechnique de France (ed) "Pluie, Évaporation, Filtration et Écoulement: Compte rendu des troisièmes Journées de l'Hydraulique, Alger 12-14/04/1954", La Houille Blanche, Grenoble, 133-135.

CAPPUS P., 1957: Répartition des précipitations de faible superficie sur un bassin versant. La Houille Blanche N° spécial A:332-342

CAPPUS P., 1958: Répartition des précipitations sur un bassin versant de faible superficie. AIHS Assemblée Générale de Toronto, 1957. Publications IAHS 43:515-528

CAPPUS P., 1960. Bassin expérimental d'Alrance - Étude des lois de l'écoulement - Application au calcul et à la prévision des débits. La Houille Blanche N° spécial A:493-520. [available at]

RÉMÉNIÉRAS G., CAPPUS P., 1956: Générateur électriques de germes glaciogènes pour les essais de pluie artificielle. La Nature - Revue des Sciences et de leurs Applications, Juin 1956, 3254:218-219.

Rapports internes[edit]

CAPPUS P., 195?: Intensité durée et fréquence des averses. Rapport interne du CREC, EDF, Chatou

CAPPUS P., 195?: Mesure d'un indice d'évaporation par 1'évaporomètre Piche - Bassin expérimental d'Alrance. Rapport interne du CREC, EDF, Chatou.

CAPPUS P., 1954: Étude des pertes par évapotranspiration. Rapport interne du CREC, EDF, Chatou.


[History of the Alrance Basin]