Leopold, Luna B. 1915–2006

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Leopold, Luna B. 1915–2006

(Luna Bergere Leopold)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born October 8, 1915, in Albuquerque, NM; died of congestive heart failure, February 23, 2006, in Berkeley, CA. Conservationist, geologist, meteorologist, hydrologist, and author. Best known for his work with the U.S. Geological Survey, Leopold was one of the most important figures in twentieth-century geomorphology and hydrology, helping geologists to understand how rivers work, as well as their vital ecological role. The son of renowned environmentalist Aldo Leopold, his higher education was in diverse fields: a civil engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1936, an M.S. in geology from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1944, and a doctorate in that field from Harvard in 1950. In the late 1930s, he worked as an engineer for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service in New Mexico, and just before the war he was an associate engineer for the U.S. Engineers Office in Los Angeles. Serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces Corps of Engineers during World War II, Leopold was trained in meteorology and physics while in the military. This led to a job as a meteorologist with the Hawaiian Pineapple Research Institute after the war. Here, he developed ways to predict rainfall for sugar cane and pineapple crops in Hawaii. With all this experience behind him, Leopold was well prepared when he joined the U.S. Geological Survey in 1950 as a hydrologist. He spent the next twenty-three years focusing mainly on the geomorphology of rivers; that is, he conducted research on how rivers affect the landscape, how they change seasonally, and how they influence our environment. Already inheriting a love for the environment from his well-known father, Leopold became the leading scientist in the country on riparian matters, serving as a consultant to companies and government agencies and helping them to see the impact of development on the land. A board member of the Environmental Law Institute and the Sierra Club, he was also a member of such organizations as the National Academy of Sciences and the Geological Society of America, once serving as president of the latter. An avid outdoorsman, Leopold appreciated nature from both a scientific and aesthetic viewpoint. His books, many of them cowritten efforts, are often quite technical, but are widely regarded as invaluable seminal contributions to science. Among these are The Flood Control Controversy (1954), Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology (1964), Water in Environmental Planning (1978), and Water, Rivers, and Creeks (1997), among others. He also edited a collection of his father's writings, Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold (1972). For his many significant contributions to science, Leopold received such honors as the 1984 Busk Medal from the Royal Geographical Society and the 1991 National Medal of Science.



Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2006, p. B10.

New York Times, March 20, 2006, p. A20.

Washington Post, March 5, 2006, p. C10.

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Leopold, Luna B. 1915–2006

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