Kohler, Max

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Max Kohler

Max Kohler with the International Hydrology Medal

Max Kohler


Max Adam Kohler 1915 (Lincolnville, Kansas, USA) - 2017 (Silver Spring, Maryland, USA)


Max Adam Kohler attended the University of New Mexico studying both engineering and physics. After graduating in 1939, he went to work for the US Weather Bureau. He.served with distinction at all levels of the National Weather Service (NWS) Hydrologic Program. During his first 15 years of Federal service, he served first as a Hydraulic Engineer and then as a Research Scientist in the Hydrology Programs of the Weather Service (then known as the Weather Bureau). In 1951, he was appointed Chief Research Hydrologist with the Weather Bureau. In 1954 this title was changed to Chief Hydrologist. He held the position of Chief Hydrologist off‐and‐on as the program evolved until his appointment in 1972 as Director, Office of Hydrology. In the 21 years following his initial appointment as Chief Hydrologist, Mr. Kohler provided strong influence and leadership for both technical and program directions of the NWS River Forecast Service. Many of the elements of his pioneering efforts continue as a basis for operational river forecasting. During interim periods in his tenure as Chief Hydrologist, Mr. Kohler served also in other capacities including an assignment as Director, Hydrologic Research and Development Laboratory. In 1973, he retired after 36 years Federal service.

In addition to his many direct contributions to the NWS Hydrology Programs, he has been very influential nationally and internationally. He was instrumental in establishing the Commission of Hydrology within the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization, and served as the Commission's first president. He has served on many national and international hydrologic committees and has held such prestigious posts as the Chairman, International Association of Hydrologic Sciences (a sub‐unit of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics); Chairman of Section W, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Council Member of the American Meteorological Society; and Member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Because of his many years of service in the field, in research, and as a leader in the hydrologic community, Mr. Kohler is a person who has instant name recognition among hydrologists. Finally, he is a person who, with patience and sympathy, has encouraged excellence among his fellow workers in the NWS. He was awarded the IAHS IAHS International Hydrology Prize 1986 and in his honour the National Weather Service offers the Max A. Kohler Award annually. Max was a member of The National Academy of Engineering, The American Society of Civil Engineers, and The American Meteorological Society.

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

Max A. Kohler has been one of the most prominent pioneers in developing operational hydrologic forecast techniques, both in the operational hydrologic activities within the United States and internationally in organizing operational hydrologists and gaining recognition for hydrologic programs. He was instrumental in establishing the Commission for Hydrology within the World Meteorological Organization, and he served as the first president of that commission

He has also authored or co‐authored many significant papers on river and water supply forecasting, evaporation, and precipitation, and co‐authored the well‐known university level hydrology texts, Applied Hydrology and Hydrology for Engineers.

Reference Material[edit]

NWS Max A Kohler Award

Washington Post obituary, October 17th, 2017

Major Publications[edit]


Linsley, R.K., Kohler, M.A. and Paulhus, J.L., 1949. Applied Hydrology, McGraw-Hill: New York. 17 editions published between 1949 and 1985 in English and Russian

Max Adam Kohler and Ray K. Linsley, 1951, Predicting the runoff from storm rainfall, US Weather Bureau, Research Paper 34, Dept. of Commerce: Washington, D.C.

Max Adam Kohler; T J Nordenson; W E Fox, 1955, Evaporation from pans and lakes, US Weather Bureau, Research Paper 38, Dept. of Commerce: Washington, D.C.

Kohler, M.A., 1957. Computation of evaporation and evapotranspiration from meteorological observations. US Weather Bureau, Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

Linsley Jr, R.K., Kohler, M.A. and Paulhus, J.L., 1958, Hydrology for Engineers, McGraw-Hill: New York. 66 editions published between 1958 and 1989 in 3 languages.

Kohler, M. A., 1958, Design of hydrological networks. WMO: Geneva, 16 editions published between 1958 and 1970 in English

Kohler, M. A., 1959, Evaporation maps for the United States, US Weather Bureau, Dept. of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 4 editions published between 1958 and 1970 in English


Kohler, M.A., 1949. Double-mass analysis for testing the consistency of records and for making adjustments. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 30, pp.188-189.

Linsley, R.K. and Kohler, M.A., 1951. Variations in storm rainfall over small areas. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 32(2), pp.245-250.

Paulhus, J.L. and Kohler, M.A., 1952. Interpolation of missing precipitation records. Mon. Wea. Rev, 80(5), pp.129-133.

Harbeck Jr, G.E., Kohler, M.A. and Koberg, G.E., others, 1958. Water loss investigations, Lake Mead studies. US Geological Survey Professional Paper, 298, pp.1-100.

Hershfield, D. and Kohler, M.A., 1960. An empirical appraisal of the Gumbel extreme‐value procedure. Journal of Geophysical Research, 65(6), pp.1737-1746.

Kohler, M.A. and Richards, M.M., 1962. Multicapacity basin accounting for predicting runoff from storm precipitation. Journal of Geophysical Research, 67(13), pp.5187-5197.

Kohler, M.A. and Parmele, L.H., 1967. Generalized estimates of free‐water evaporation. Water Resources Research, 3(4), pp.997-1005.


The National Weather Service Max A. Kohler Award