Jose D. Salas, Ph.D., Dist.M.ASCE, one of the most widely known hydrologists in the world, has been honored by ASCE with inclusion in its 2018 class of Distinguished Members for his pioneering contributions to stochastic modeling of hydrological processes, analysis of floods and droughts, climate variability and land use impacts on extreme events, simulating complex river systems such as the Colorado and Nile, and risk analysis of nonstationary hydrologic extremes.
Salas is at the forefront of hydrologic research, having advanced both the theoretical and practical aspects of hydrologic science and engineering. He has been a major contributor to time series analysis for modeling and simulation of hydrologic processes such as streamflows, particularly in modeling periodic dependent processes such as monthly streamflows, and algorithms for multivariate and multiplicative processes. He also contributed in developing periodic gamma autoregressive (PGAR) models for seasonal flows, a model that produces seasonal statistics without requiring a prior transformation. Furthermore, Salas contributed in developing univariate and multivariate models for periodic intermittent hydrologic processes such as weekly precipitation and monthly streamflows in semiarid and arid regions.
Additionally, Salas developed in the late 1970’s the early version of the shifting mean (SM) model and suggested that sudden shifts observed in some hydrological series may be forced by major oceanic atmospheric processes. Further developments of the SM model including the multivariate SM were applied successfully for simulating the Great lakes and the Nile river flow systems. A significant achievement of his career was leading the development of the software package, Stochastic Analysis Modeling and Simulation (SAMS), for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
For over 45 years, Salas has been principal investigator of a variety of research projects related to flood prediction; drought analysis and prediction; stochastic modeling and generation of hydrologic processes; water supply forecasting; prediction of short-term rainfall; impacts of climate variability on agriculture; modeling streamflow in arid regions; stochastic modeling and simulation of the Nile River, the Great Lakes, and Colorado River systems; operation and safety of reservoir systems, and risk and uncertainty analysis of hydraulic structures. These projects were funded by national and international organizations – the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, NOAA, USDA, World Bank, and others.
Salas, currently professor emeritus, has taught at the Colorado State University for over 30 years, and has graduated 37 Ph.D. and 43 M.S. students. In addition, he has served as External Committee Member for doctoral students at universities in Canada, Korea, Spain, and Peru. He is a lecturer, consultant, and author of over 90 journal articles, a book, and more than 10 chapters of books and handbooks. His book, Applied Modeling of Hydrologic Time Series (1980), has become a classic in the field.
He is a recipient of ASCE’s Norman Medal, Arid Lands Hydraulic Engineering Award, and Ven Te Chow Award. He served as associate editor for ASCE’s Journal of Hydraulic Engineering and Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, among others in Spain and Mexico. His memberships include AGU, IAHR, IAHS, and Sigma Xi, and he has served on various committees, and organized sessions, for several EWRI Congresses. Salas is a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Engineering of Mexico and Academy of Engineering of Peru. In 2011 his alma matter in Lima, awarded him an Honorary Doctor.
Salas earned his B.S. and Civil Engineering degrees from the National University of Engineering of Lima, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Colorado State University.