Dracup, John A.

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John A. Dracup


John A. Dracup July 14, 1934 (Seattle, WA, USA) - December 20, 2021 (Santa Monica, CA, US)


John was born in Seattle, WA. His parents Albert and Joanna Dracup had immigrated from Scotland through Ellis Island and settled in Seattle in 1931. They were hard working, pragmatic Scots with strong family values. He had two sisters, Marion and Grace. John frequently boasted that he had a view of Puget Sound and Mount Rainer from his bedroom window. The house is still in his family today, and the Pacific Northwest always held a special place in John's memory and heart.

John always viewed education as the path to opportunity. He began his career with a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Washington as a ROTC cadet. After spending two years in the 1950s stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, he returned to the U.S. to pursue a Masters degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He taught two years at Oregon State and decided that an academic career would give him both a satisfying intellectual challenge and an abundant opportunity to travel. While working on finishing his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley,, he joined the UCLA engineering faculty in 1965 as an assistant professor. He taught undergraduate courses on water resources engineering and the design of water resource structures, as well as graduate courses on surface water hydrology and on engineering economics of water and environmental systems. He was promoted to associate professor in 1971 and full professor in 1978. In 2000, Dracup left for a faculty position at UC Berkeley’s civil and environmental engineering department, where he continued his research and teaching.

During his fifty years of teaching, he mentored countless graduate students whom he often spoke of with much pride. In retirement, he focused his energy and expertise on providing sustainable clean water systems in developing, remote communities via the Rotary Foundation. He conducted clean water projects in Kenya, Peru, and Guatemala, and recently published a book entitled "Clean Water for Developing Countries."

John loved life, his family, and in particular, travel. He visited 88 countries in his lifetime. He was dedicated to his family above all else, celebrated 49 years of marriage with his wife Kate, and taught all five of his children to be excellent skiers from a young age.

Hydrological Achievements

John Dracup (apart form a couple of early papers on sand beaches with Pete Eagleson), started his career using the methods of systems analysis applied to hydrological systems, including the optimal identification of hydrological models and management of water resource systems. Some of this work was summarised in the book with W. A. Hall on Water Resource Systems Engineering, published in 1970. The work was extended to water quality applications.

Early on in his career, however, he became interested in the occurrence of droughts, including multi-year droughts, and their relation to atmosphere and oceanic circulations. The majority of his more highly cited publications are in this area. The work perhaps started with an interest in the management of the Colorado River (Rhodes et al. 1984) and included studies of both California and Australian rainfalls in relation to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation indices. He did early research on the impact of climate change on large scale water resource systems and was a Fulbright Scholar to Australia in 2001. One of his last papers (Lopez et al., 2016) was concerned with the occurrence of droughts in the Amazon..


Reference Material

Obituary of John A. Dracup in the LA Times

Obituary of John A. Dracup, UCLA

Selected Publications


Hall, W.A. and Dracup, J.A., 1970. Water Resources. Systems Engineering. New York: McGraw Hill.


Eagleson, P.S., Glenne, B. and Dracup, J.A., 1961. Equilibrium characteristics of sand beaches in the offshore zone.

Eagleson, P.S., Glenne, B. and Dracup, J.A., 1963. Equilibrium characteristics of sand beaches. Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 89(1), pp.35-57.

Vemuri, V. and Dracup, J.A., 1967. Analysis of nonlinearities in ground water hydrology: A hybrid computer approach. Water Resources Research, 3(4), pp.1047-1058.

Vemuri, V., Dracup, J.A., Erdmann, R.C. and Vemuri, N., 1969. Sensitivity analysis method of system identification and its potential in hydrologic research. Water Resources Research, 5(2), pp.341-349.

Hall, W.A. and Dracup, J.A., 1967. The Optimum Management of Ground Water Resources. International Conference on Water for Peace, 20-26.

Labadie, J.W. and Dracup, J.A., 1969. Optimal identification of lumped watershed models. Water Resources Research, 5(3), pp.583-590.

Mulvihill, M.E. and Dracup, J.A., 1974. Optimal timing and sizing of a conjunctive urban water supply and waste water system with nonlinear programing. Water Resources Research, 10(2), pp.170-175.

Mulvihill, M.E. and Dracup, J.A., 1974. Optimal timing and sizing of a conjunctive urban water supply and waste water system with nonlinear programing. Water Resources Research, 10(2), pp.170-175.

Willis, R., Anderson, D.R. and Dracup, J.A., 1975. Steady-state water quality modeling in streams. Journal of the Environmental Engineering Division, 101(2), pp.245-258.

Anderson, D.R., Dracup, J.A., Fogarty, T.J. and Willis, R., 1976. Water quality modeling of deep reservoirs. JAWRA, Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation, pp.134-146.

Willis, R., Anderson, D.R. and Dracup, J.A., 1976. Tansient water quality modelling in streams 1. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 12(1), pp.157-174.

White, J.D. and Dracup, J.A., 1977. Water quality modeling of a high mountain stream. JAWRA, Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation, pp.2179-2189.

Dracup, J.A., Lee, K.S. and Paulson Jr, E.G., 1980. On the definition of droughts. Water resources research, 16(2), pp.297-302.

Dracup, J.A., Lee, K.S. and Paulson Jr, E.G., 1980. On the statistical characteristics of drought events. Water resources research, 16(2), pp.289-296.

Sorooshian, S. and Dracup, J.A., 1980. Stochastic parameter estimation procedures for hydrologie rainfall‐runoff models: Correlated and heteroscedastic error cases. Water Resources Research, 16(2), pp.430-442.

Rhodes, S.L., Ely, D. and Dracup, J.A., 1984. Climate and the Colorado River: The limits of management. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 65(7), pp.682-691.

Paulson Jr, E.G., Sadeghipour, J. and Dracup, J.A., 1985. Regional frequency analysis of multiyear droughts using watershed and climatic information. Journal of Hydrology, 77(1-4), pp.57-76.

Lee, K.S., Sadeghipour, J. and Dracup, J.A., 1986. An approach for frequency analysis of multiyear drought durations. Water Resources Research, 22(5), pp.655-662.

Kendall, D.R. and Dracup, J.A., 1992. On the generation of drought events using an alternating renewal-reward model. Stochastic Hydrology and Hydraulics, 6, pp.55-68.

Kahya, E. and Dracup, J.A., 1993. US streamflow patterns in relation to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Water resources research, 29(8), pp.2491-2503.

Kahya, E. and Dracup, J.A., 1994. The influences of type 1 El Nino and La Nina events on streamflows in the Pacific southwest of the United States. Journal of Climate, 7(6), pp.965-976.

Dracup, J.A. and Kahya, E., 1994. The relationships between US streamflow and La Niña events. Water Resources Research, 30(7), pp.2133-2141.

Piechota, T.C. and Dracup, J.A., 1996. Drought and regional hydrologic variation in the United States: Associations with the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation. Water Resources Research, 32(5), pp.1359-1373.

Piechota, T.C., Dracup, J.A. and Fovell, R.G., 1997. Western US streamflow and atmospheric circulation patterns during El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Journal of Hydrology, 201(1-4), pp.249-271.

Chiew, F.H., Piechota, T.C., Dracup, J.A. and McMahon, T.A., 1998. El Nino/Southern Oscillation and Australian rainfall, streamflow and drought: Links and potential for forecasting. Journal of hydrology, 204(1-4), pp.138-149.

Piechota, T.C., Chiew, F.H., Dracup, J.A. and McMahon, T.A., 1998. Seasonal streamflow forecasting in eastern Australia and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Water resources research, 34(11), pp.3035-3044.

Piechota, T.C. and Dracup, J.A., 1999. Long-Range Streamflow Forecasting Using El Ni ñ o-Southern Oscillation Indicators. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 4(2), pp.144-151.

Silverman, D. and Dracup, J.A., 2000. Artificial neural networks and long-range precipitation prediction in California. Journal of applied meteorology, 39(1), pp.57-66.

Hidalgo, H.G., Piechota, T.C. and Dracup, J.A., 2000. Alternative principal components regression procedures for dendrohydrologic reconstructions. Water Resources Research, 36(11), pp.3241-3249.

Piechota, T.C., Chiew, F.H., Dracup, J.A. and McMahon, T.A., 2001. Development of exceedance probability streamflow forecast. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 6(1), pp.20-28.

Keyantash, J. and Dracup, J.A., 2002. The quantification of drought: an evaluation of drought indices. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 83(8), pp.1167-1180.

Hidalgo, H.G. and Dracup, J.A., 2003. ENSO and PDO effects on hydroclimatic variations of the Upper Colorado River Basin. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 4(1), pp.5-23.

Brekke, L.D., Miller, N.L., Bashford, K.E., Quinn, N.W. and Dracup, J.A., 2004. Climate change impacts uncertainty for water resources in the san joaquin river basin, california 1. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 40(1), pp.149-164.

Dracup, J.A. and Vicuna, S., 2005. An overview of hydrology and water resources studies on climate change: the California experience. Impacts of global climate change, pp.1-12.

Vicuna, S. and Dracup, J.A., 2007. The evolution of climate change impact studies on hydrology and water resources in California. Climatic Change, 82(3-4), pp.327-350.

Vicuna, S., Maurer, E.P., Joyce, B., Dracup, J.A. and Purkey, D., 2007. The sensitivity of California water resources to climate change scenarios 1. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 43(2), pp.482-498.

Purkey, D.R., Joyce, B., Vicuna, S., Hanemann, M.W., Dale, L.L., Yates, D. and Dracup, J.A., 2008. Robust analysis of future climate change impacts on water for agriculture and other sectors: a case study in the Sacramento Valley. Climatic Change, 87(Suppl 1), pp.109-122.

Vicuna, S., Dracup, J.A., Lund, J.R., Dale, L.L. and Maurer, E.P., 2010. Basin‐scale water system operations with uncertain future climate conditions: Methodology and case studies. Water Resources Research, 46(4).

Vicuña, S., Dracup, J.A. and Dale, L., 2011. Climate change impacts on two high-elevation hydropower systems in California. Climatic Change, 109, pp.151-169.

Lopes, A.V., Chiang, J.C.H., Thompson, S.A. and Dracup, J.A., 2016. Trend and uncertainty in spatial‐temporal patterns of hydrological droughts in the Amazon basin. Geophysical Research Letters, 43(7), pp.3307-3316.