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Committee on River Ice Processes and the Environment

René Hausser, Dipl. Eng.

René Hausser obtained his Electrical Engineering Diploma from the University of Grenoble, France, in 1949 and graduated from the University’s School of Electrical Engineering Hydraulics in 1950. He worked for Sogréah at Grenoble during the subsequent years but in late 1956 he co-founded the well-known Canadian firm LaSalle Hydraulics Laboratory (now LaSalle Consulting Group), which is located at LaSalle, a borough in the city of Montreal. From 1956 to 1969, René was LHL’s Chief Engineer, responsible for physical-model studies for the port of Montreal and the Lachine Rapids of the St. Lawrence Seaway. He became Vice President and Technical Director in 1969; and Chairman and CEO of LHL in 1974 until his retirement in 1991.

In his 41 years of engineering work, René completed many important projects and produced pioneering scientific advances in such fields as environmental engineering, thermal and nuclear energy production, urban water management, fluvial and marine facilities, hydroelectric development, and river navigation. Many of these activities involved river ice processes in such rivers as, for example, the St Lawrence, Burntwood, Churchill, Great Whale, La Grande, Liard, and Mackenzie. René’s findings on river ice processes have been published primarily in such venues as the Transactions of the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Journal of the Hydraulics Division of ASCE, the Proceedings of the Canadian River Ice Workshops and the Proceedings of the IAHR Ice Symposia.

In the 1960s, René and his co-workers at LHL laid the foundation of the physics of ice cover and ice jam formation in rivers, as part of studies associated with the Lachine hydroelectric development: “An experimental canal was built in the St. Lawrence River by Cartier, Cote, Piette, consulting engineers, and the Quebec Hydroelectric Commission entrusted our laboratory with general experimental and theoretical research to co-ordinate experimental data and try to find laws governing ice cover formation and evolution.” (quoted from the 1961 paper by Pariset and Hausser, Transactions of the EIC, 5(1), 41-49). This paper contains a comprehensive analytical treatment of the subject, which culminated in the seminal 1966 paper by Pariset, Hausser, and Gagnon (ASCE J. of the Hydraulics Division, 92 (HY6), 1-24). One can hardly overestimate the importance of this work and the impetus that it gave to river ice science and engineering during the following years. René worked on many other contributions in the three subsequent decades, encompassing not only hydro-mechanical but also thermodynamic aspects of river ice processes.

His unique ability to combine theoretical understanding with sound engineering principles in order to successfully address practical problems has been universally recognized, earning him, prior to the Bernard Michel Award (2007), the Gzowski Medal of the Engineering Institute of Canada for the best paper in Civil Engineering in 1961 "Formation and Evolution of Ice Covers on Rivers"; and the Camille A. Dagenais Award of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering for outstanding contributions to hydrotechnical engineering (1984).

Selected publications by René Hausser

  • Drouin, M. and Hausser, R. (1984). "The La Grande River: a full scale ice hydraulic laboratory". Proceedings of the 7th IAHR Ice Symposium, 1984, Hamburg, Germany.
  • Hausser, R., Drouin, M., and Parkinson, F.E. (1986). "Thin ice sheet formation on warm water". Proceedings of the 8th IAHR Ice Symposium, 1986, Iowa City, USA.
  • Pariset, E., Hausser, R., and Gagnon, A. (1966). "Formation of ice covers and ice jams in rivers". Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 92(6), 1-42.
Workshop proceedings