Vilnius University (VU) has had disciplines with hydrometeorological subjects for centuries. It is known, that J. Poczapowski has defended his thesis in 1643 and published a tractate called “Universa Meteorologia” (Lithuanian translation of the script). Furthermore, the very first regular temperature observations in Lithuania were started here by professor M. Poczobutt, in the Observatory of Vilnius University in 1770. It is one of the longest ongoing temperature recordings in Europe.

The origin of current Department of Hydrology and Climatology is believed to be the start of Department of Geophysics and Meteorology in Kaunas University. Professor K. Sleževičius was the founder of Geophysics and meteorology office in Kaunas University back in 1923 and became the first professor to teach geophysics and meteorology to students. This office later became the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology in 1930 with Prof. K. Sleževičius as the head of the department. During the next 10 years there is a wide variety of theses and research, including not only meteorology but also other topics, like gravimetry and magnetism. None the less, meteorology is slowly but surely becoming the most important subject of discipline developed here (all defended thesis from 1931 to 1939 were in the range of meteorology topic).

In 1930 Kaunas University opens a second workplace for hydrometeorology – Department of Hydrology and Hydraulics, with prof. S. Kolupaila at the head of it. Great effort is being put here into development of research on hydrological subject. Courses are read in hydrology, river hydraulics, and hydrometrics. Prints of that year prove that scientists exchanged information thoroughly, and knew of each other’s works to full extent.

When Vilnius became the capital of Lithuania again in 1940, department led by prof. K. Sleževičius, together with the whole VDU faculty of Mathematics-nature moved there. Faculty of Technology, Department of Hydrology and Hydraulics being part of it, stayed in Kaunas city (later on that date a school of technical hydrology formed there, which is currently developed in several other universities). The hydrology and meteorology ties made in the University stay firm for a while.

During the period of interwar (1919-1939) then still Polish Vilnius University had Department of Meteorology open alongside Astronomical observatory, led by prof. K. Jantzeno. Courses were read in subject of meteorology, and quite a few research works on the topic were presented. Most of which were meant to summarize the data of Vilnius meteorological station (which, as a matter of fact, in 1922-1953 was also located near the observatory in Čiurlionis street). Sadly nothing real can be said on continuation of this work, for all those who worked on it have moved to Poland.

On the other hand, it is into the rooms of this department that the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology moved into when transferring to Vilnius (Čiurlionis street 23), which then, during the reorganization of University, was made part of Department of Nature. During this period of time the greatest achievement of the department is most likely the successful move of whole inventory to Vilnius city (large part of those unique instruments are currently preserved in the Department of Hydrology and Climatology museum). Proper scientific and pedagogical practice is hard to achieve when government is changing almost annually, (it is only known that in 1940-1942 prof. K. Sleževičius was reading meteorology courses to geographers); until finally Nature department is closed by the Germans in the summer of 1942.

In 1944 department work in Nature science faculty is reestablished under a new name – Meteorology and Climatology. K. Sleževičius was the headmaster of it until the day he died (1953). Only a few colleagues helped him at the start, but later the collective expanded to 5-6 people.

Prof. B. Styra led the department (all the while working in Science Academy) from 1953 to 1960. Department was still small, therefor successfully defended thesis (by K. Kaušyla, V. Ščemeliovas, V. Matulevičienė) presented during the lead of B. Styra are very important in evaluating it. Most works during that time are research on Lithuania‘s climate, and its separate components.

In 1960 radical changes start happening in the department. First true hydrologist starts working there – A. Baris graduate from Hydrometeorology Institution of St Petersburg (then – Leningrad). Thanks to him the very same year research on hydrology subject is intensified, and the first thesis works analyzing the problems of hydrology are defended. In 1960 docent E. Červinskas, who worked and taught here on subject of hydrology from 1951 is chosen to be the new head of the department. He actively supports A. Baris enthusiasm, and thus in 1961 department is reorganized and renamed as the Department of Hydrology and Climatology. From then until 1991 department annually prepares graduates in two specializations: hydrologists and meteorologists. Almost all of the current Lithuania’s elite in hydrometeorology have graduated from the department in this period of time.

The structure of the department was changed (the number of employees rose from 6 to 11 people), heads changed too (1960-1970 – docent E. Červinskas; 1970-1972 – docent V. Ščemeliovas; 1972-1977 – docent A. Barisas; 1977-1986 – prof. Č. Kudaba; 1986-2004 – prof. K. Kilkus; from year 2004 prof. A. Bukantis), yet every graduate of that time remembers the names of the professors who unveiled them the axioms of hydrology and meteorology. It is the well-known climatologist, Lithuania’s climate specialist, docent V. Ščemeliovas; wonderful specialist of synoptic and dynamic meteorology, docent V. Matulevičienė; ace of Curonian Lagoon and Klaipėda strait research, docent E. Červinskas; the scholar in research of every drainage problem, docent A. Barisas; and many other pedagogues, no less well achieved in their subjects.

The most noticeable change in the department happened during the recent years. In 1992 biannual preparation of specialists in hydrology and meteorology was scraped. A more universal nature of specialists is being prepared now – hydrometeorologists. After the move to two-tier training scheme in 1995 graduated the first bachelors, and in 1997 – masters. And finally, in 1999, for the first time students were accepted into autonomous four-year Hydrology and Meteorology bachelor and two-year master study programs. In 2011 the bachelor program was renamed to Meteorology and Hydrology study program. In 2017 master’s program was shortened to 1.5 years.

Important Dates

1643 – J. Poczapowski defends meteorology master thesis in Vilnius University, and publishes a tractate “Universa Meteorologia” (Lithuanian translation of the script).

1770 – With the initiative of prof. M. Poczobutt the very first regular temperature observations were being conducted in Vilnius University observatory.

1923 – Geophysics office was established in Kaunas University with K. Sleževičius initiative.

1930 – Department of Geophysics and Meteorology is established in Kaunas University of Mathematics-nature, and first certified meteorologists in Lithuania are being prepared.

1930 – Department of Hydrology and Hydraulics starts work in Kaunas University.

1940 – Department of Geophysics and Meteorology (together with whole VDU Mathematics-nature faculty) moves to Vilnius.

1944 – Department of Geophysics and Meteorology renews their work at VU Department of Nature, and is renamed as Department of Meteorology and Climatology.

1961 – Department of Meteorology and Climatology is named Department of Hydrology and Climatology, and biannually prepared hydrologists and meteorologists.

1992 – Department starts to annually prepare geographers in joined specialization of hydrometeorology.

1995 – First bachelors in hydrometeorology specialization (geographers) graduates.

1997 – First masters in hydrometeorology graduates.

1999 – First students are accepted into autonomous Hydrology and Meteorology bachelor study program.

2011 – Bachelor study program is renamed as Meteorology and Hydrology study program.

2017 – Master study program is shortened to 1.5 years.