Sutcliffe et al (2016) Harold Edwin Hurst: The Nile and Egypt

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John Sutcliffe, Steven Hurst, Ayman G. Awadallah, Emma Brown, and Khalid Hamed, 2016, Harold Edwin Hurst: the Nile and Egypt, past and future, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 61: 1557-1570


The paper describes how Harold Hurst spent 60 years studying the Nile. It gives some biographical details of Hurst's life (see also the Hurst entry here. It describes how he developed the concept of power law variance functions for different long term geophyciscal data sets while deriving long term storage needs for Egypt, resulting in the classic Hurst (1951) paper. His concept of Century Storage was first applied in the Equatorial Nile Project, which made use of water stored in Lakes Victoria and Albert with a regulator on Lake Kyoga. This also had impacts on the local vegetation, particularly in the Sudd swamps. Later, the concepts were used in the design of the Aswan High Dam, and tested by a form of Monte Carlo simulation involving taking cuts and shuffling a pack of 2000 cards, including a joker card that resulted in random changes in the mean (later reproduced using an ARMA model by O'Connell,1971).

The paper shows how Hurst's work helped mitigate the effects on Egypt of later drought periods and discusses Hurst's legacy in terms of the extensive hydrological records in the Nile basin and his demonstration that 30 years of data are not adequate to establish the mean value of a hydrological series.


Hurst phenomeon


Harold Edwin Hurst