William P. Kustas, winner of AGU’s 2019 Hydrologic Sciences Award
William P. Kustas

Dr. William Kustas has achieved groundbreaking results in advancing both the science and the application of remote sensing and the modeling of soil–plant–atmosphere dynamics to address hydrologic and climate problems. His sustained original contributions in hydrology are highly appreciated by scientists internationally.

William Kustas has contributed important advances in the development of techniques, based on atmospheric boundary layer similarity theory and heat and water vapor conservation equations, for computing surface fluxes of latent and sensible heat at regional scales over complex terrain.

He has conceived and designed large-scale multidisciplinary remote sensing field experiments to integrate remote sensing, hydrologic, atmospheric, and biological measurements over a range of temporal and spatial resolutions. He has been a leader in the design and coordination of surface flux measurement networks for joint NASA–U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) large-scale multidisciplinary field experiments in various ecosystems and has led numerous cooperative studies to evaluate the utility of micrometeorological measurement techniques.

He has pioneered the development of physically based models to estimate soil and vegetation heat fluxes using remote sensing. His approaches have been major breakthroughs in the application of remotely sensed surface temperature for evapotranspiration modeling over variable surfaces, including the combination of microwave and optical remote sensing information. His methods are now regularly used for the mapping of surface fluxes at basin and regional scales for continuous global-scale evapotranspiration monitoring.

William Kustas is particularly well known for his scholarly generosity. As one of the outstanding leaders in our profession, he has done much to advance and create opportunities for early-career researchers.

—Marc Parlange, Monash University, Australia


I am both honored and humbled to be selected to receive this year’s Hydrologic Sciences Award, especially given the class of past recipients. I would like to thank my nominator, Marc Parlange, and the supporting letter writers, as well as the awards committee members, for my selection.

My 33-year research career, after I earned a Ph.D. under the guidance of Wilfried Brutsaert, has been with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducting basic and applied research on evapotranspiration (ET) modeling using remote sensing. The U.S. Water Conservation Lab had a tremendous impact on my early career, and I am truly indebted to former lab members—the late Ray Jackson and Bob Reginato and Susan Moran.

Throughout my career, I’ve been involved in large-scale remote sensing field experiments focused on the measurement and modeling of land surface fluxes over a wide variety of landscapes both in the United States and abroad. I am very thankful to the many ARS and university colleagues involved in these experiments and need to mention several who significantly contributed to their success: Tom Jackson, John Prueger, Jerry Hatfield, Dave Goodrich, Steve Evett, Larry Hipps, and John Norman.

John Norman had a tremendous impact on my career in the early 1990s collaborating on the development of the two-source energy balance model. This work reestablished the utility of land surface temperature for modeling ET over complex surfaces. Working with ARS and NASA colleagues Martha Anderson and Chris Hain led to the development of a multiscale two-source land surface modeling system that has facilitated the resurgence of thermal remote sensing as the primary tool for ET mapping from field to global scales.

This award also belongs to the many students, postdocs, and research colleagues, as well as ARS science support staff, with whom I have had the privilege of working throughout my career. I am very grateful for their contributions recognized by this award.

—William P. Kustas, Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Md.


(2020), Kustas receives 2019 Hydrologic Sciences Award, Eos, 101, Published on 06 April 2020.

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