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  Jim Dooge in 1996 at Rennes, France during the opening of the First Interceltic Colloquium on Hydrology

Professor JCI (Jim) Dooge passed away on Friday, 20th August 2010 at the age of 88.

Jim Dooge, friend and colleague of so many scientists, was a giant of a man. His truly outstanding achievements were accomplished with a sense of the highest integrity and yet with compassion and sensitivity for the feelings of those with whom he worked.

Professor Dooge graduated in Science and in Civil Engineering from University College, Dublin in 1942 and in the same year was awarded the Pierce Malone Scholarship in Theory of Structures and Strength of Materials.  In 1943 he was appointed assistant engineer on the survey and design of major river improvement schemes in the arterial drainage section of the Irish Office of Public Works.  He joined the Electricity Supply Board in 1946, carrying out hydrological and hydraulic studies as a basis for the planning. of hydroelectric schemes. It was at this time that a lifelong interest in hydrology had its beginnings.  Jim took this interest in hydrology to the highest scientific level. His careful and thorough study of hydrological systems resulted in seminal contributions to the mathematical modelling of such systems. With time, his interest expanded to cover meteorology and climate.

In 1954 Professor Dooge took leave of absence for two years to become Research Associate and Instructor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Iowa, USA. This period in Iowa added an international dimension to his career which was to grow progressively in subsequent decades alongside his immersion in engineering and public service at home. In 1956, he returned to Ireland to work on the planning and design of a multi- purpose project on the River Shannon, as well as other special projects.

A new chapter opened for Professor Dooge in 1958 when he was appointed Professor of Civil Engineering at University College Cork. This was to be the beginning of an influential academic career and he was to remain at University College Cork for the next 12 years, moving to University College Dublin in 1970.

In tandem with this, the international scope of his work also grew. Since the mid-sixties until recent years, he worked as an expert consultant to a wide range of specialised United Nations agencies including UNESCO, WMO, UNEP, and the FAO. He also acted in an expert consultancy role to DGXII (research) of the Commission of the European Union.

In the sixties, Professor Dooge was active in developing an international network of hydrology scientists and engineers that stretched from the USA to the then USSR. "These contacts were very beneficial, enabling research taking place from all over the world to link up in meaningful ways and, in a sense, helping establish an international hydrological community. Initially, we were an informal group of six. This grew to the point where we had a committee of 12”.  Eventually this led to the establishment of the International Commission on Water Resource Systems within the International Association for Hydrological Sciences (IAHS).  Jim later served as President of IAHS from 1975 to 1979; subsequently he became Secretary General of the International Council for Science (ICSU) from 1980 to 1982 and President of ICSU from 1993 to 1996.

Typically, Professor Dooge was involved in some of the earliest work done to identify the causes of climate change. He was heavily involved in the discussions within WMO in 1978 that eventually led to the first World Climate Conference being held in Geneva in 1979. He witnessed first-hand the phenomenal growth in climate change awareness: "At that first conference the attendance was almost exclusively made up of scientists and engineers whereas, when the second World Climate Conference took place in 1990, the scientists and engineers were joined by a strong contingent of politicians, a sign that interest in the issues had broadened considerably."

Professor Dooge was awarded the International Hydrology Prize in 1983 and the International Meteorological Organization Prize in 1999 (the only non-meteorologist to be so honoured).  He was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Engineering Award from Engineers Ireland in 2006 and also was the first recipient of the Gold Medal in Engineering Science from the Royal Irish Academy in the same year.  

In 1990, WMO launched the idea of an International Conference on Water and Climate that would be held as a preparatory meeting for the famous Rio Summit on the environment and development.  It was Jim who arranged for the Conference to be held in Dublin in January 1992.  References are still being made at international gatherings to the “Dublin Conference” as the most influential international conference in the field of water.  Jim accepted to chair the meeting, skilfully steering the adoption of the "Dublin Principles" that have been influential in shaping water management policy over the last 20 years.

Most individuals would have been satisfied with such a distinguished scientific and academic career. However, Jim had an equally brilliant political career.

Professor Dooge became involved in politics at an early age and was elected to Dublin County Council in 1948.  He was twice elected chairman of the Council. He was first elected to the Irish Senate in 1961 and continued to serve in the Upper House until 1987. He was Chair of the Senate from 1973 to 1977 and in 1981 became Minister for Foreign Affairs.  Prof Dooge was widely regarded as an inspired choice for the post but his appointment was relatively short-lived because the government lasted only 18 months. He was not reappointed to the cabinet but he was given a significant role in the development of the European Union during the Irish Presidency of 1984. He chaired what became known as the Dooge Committee which drew up a report to the European Council on the framework for institutional reforms. This was a crucial step on the road towards agreement on the Single European Act which led to agreement among the members of the European Economic Community to form the European Union.

Jim will be remembered with the deepest respect and admiration by all who knew him, with much gratitude by the many whom he helped in their careers, and with great affection by those who had the privilege of being his friends.

by Arthur Askew





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