Tison, Léon

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Léon Tison


Léon Jean Tison 1895 (Cornières, Belgium) - 1982


Léon Jean Tison was born on 3rd November 1895 at Carnières in Belgium. After a secondary education at La Louvière he entered the University of Ghent where he obtained a degree in Civil Engineering in 1921. He started work as a hydraulic engineer in the Service des Ponts et Chaussées in the Direction of the Meuse River. In 1930 he joined the University of Ghent as Maitre de Conférences to teach hydraulics and aerodynamics. In 1937 he became a Professor in the Faculty of Applied sciences and founded the Laboratory of Hydraulics which he directed until he retired in 1966.

Professor Tison was active in the International Association of Scientific Hydrology (IAHS) from 1930, after a contact with the Czech hydrologist Smetana who had been one of the founding members. In 1939 he became Secretary-General of the Association at the General Assembly of the IUGG in Washington. Over the next 20 years he devoted much of his time to international cooperation in hydrology. It was only much later that the united Nations recognised that hydrology as a subject was essential to hydraulic engineering in developing water resources. In 1959 a Commission for Hydrology was established under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organisation. In 1961 the International Hydrological Decade (IHD) was started. Many people in IAHS were not that enthusiastic towards the IHD. The success of the IHD depended greatly on the guidance of Prof. Tison. He recognised that, as an international initiative, it could be a powerful means of developing hydrology as a modern science. In doing so, however, he maintained the international prominence of IAHS at a time when many other organisations were taking an interest in different aspects of water science.

During these years, Prof. Tison helped organise and attended many meetings under the auspices of IAHS. At that time there were no secretariats and support for such activities. He took it on himself, with the help of his wife, to carry out such duties as well as continuing to develop and publish his science in both hydrology and hydraulics. He continued as Secretary General of IAHS until becoming ill in 1970. In recognition of his service to IAHS he was awarded the first silver medal of the association in 1981.

Prof. Tison was also Presdient of the Comité National Belge de Géodésie et Géophysique, President of the Académie Royale des Sciences d'Outremer, was a Grand Officer de l'order de Léopold II and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Budapest. The IAHS Tison Award, established in 1982, aims to promote excellence in research by young hydrologists. The Award is given for an outstanding paper published by IAHS in a period of two years previous to the deadline for nominations.

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

He contributed significantly towards moving hydrology from an activity of tabulating data to a more modern scientific base. His work included studies of both surface and subsurface waters and the mobilisation and transport of sediments.

Reference Material[edit]

Source: A. Volker (1983) LEON JEAN TISON (1895–1982), Hydrological Sciences Journal, 28:3, 425-427, DOI: 10.1080/02626668309491981 (in French)

Hager, W, 2003, Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000, volume I, CRC Press.

Major Publications[edit]

Durum, W.H., Heidel, S.G. and Tison, L.J., 1960. World-wide runoff of dissolved solids. International Association for Hydrological Science, 51, pp.618-628.

Tison, L.J., 1961. Local scour in rivers. Journal of Geophysical Research, 66(12), pp.4227-4232.

Tison, L.J., 1953. Studies of the critical tractive force of entrainment of bed materials. In Proceedings of the Minnesota International Hydraulic Convention (pp. 21-36). ASCE.

Nace, R.L. and Tison, L.J., 1963. International co-operation in scientific hydrology. ICSU Rev. World Sci, 5(2), pp.116-123.

Tison, L.J., 1966. The problem of sedimentation in deltas and their estuaries. Scientific Problems of the Humid Tropical Zone Deltas and Their Implications, UNESCO, Paris, pp.41-58.


IAHS Tison Award