Former Vice-chair of the Commission, Professor Emeritus Ming-ko (Hok) Woo, is the 2008 recipient of the Canadian Geophysical Union’s prestigious J. Tuzo Wilson Medal. Professor Woo is only the second hydrologist to win this award.
Hok has bridged three main areas of hydrology: the hydrology of cold regions, the hydrology of wetland ecosystems, and stochastic and statistical hydrology. In addition, he has made a significant contribution in applying hydrology and fluvial geomorphology in developing areas of the world such as Nigeria and China.
His research has focused on understanding the principles of catchment, hillslope and wetland hydrology as well as assessing changes in hydrological systems by environmental stressors such as climate variability and human modification to the landscape. Throughout his career, he has combined empirical, experimental and observational studies with both deterministic and stochastic modelling.
His research and leadership have inspired generations of geoscientists in various universities and governments in Canada.
Woo is known first and foremost for his contributions to cold region hydrology. Much of his research took place near Resolute, NWT where a river now officially bears the name McMaster River. More recently, he was the program leader of the MAGS project, which consisted of a Canadian team of more than 80 scientists and engineers in the fields of atmospheric, earth and hydrologic sciences who studied how climate change and variability affects ice and snow dynamics and water resources in the Mackenzie River Basin.
The Canadian Geophysical Union has also honoured him by creating an annual lecture series in hydrology and his alma mater, McMaster University, is honouring him by introducing the Woo Water Lecture Series from autumn 2008.
Professor Woo was Vice-chair of the IGU Commission and the preceding Study Group from 1998 to 2007. He remains a very active member of the Steering Committee.