Luna B. Leopold A View of the River

ISBN 13: 9780674937321

A View of the River

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9780674937321: A View of the River
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With the Midwest under water, America had a chance to see how effectively it had "improved" its rivers. We've straightened and dredged them, revetted and rerouted them, made massive efforts to control them, yet our actions have been less than successful. Too often, physical changes made to a river conflict with natural processes, resulting in--rather than alleviating--damage. Applying available knowledge on how rivers form and act could prevent such problems. In this book, Luna Leopold seeks to organize such knowledge. Widely regarded as the most creative scholar in the field of river morphology, Leopold presents a coherent description of the river, its shape, size, organization, and action, along with a consistent theory that explains much of the observed character of channels.

The laws of physics that govern rivers allow for variations, many of them dictated by random chance. Thus, a river's adaptation, as Leopold describes it, tends toward the most probable form, the one with the least variance among hydraulic parameters. We see how this probabilistic tendency plays out as Leopold views the river as a whole from headwater to mouth, in the drainage net, in the behavior of meanders, and in aspects of sediment transport.

Grounded in hydraulics, geomorphology, and surveying, as well as in extensive fieldwork on rivers in the eastern and Rocky Mountain states, Leopold's view of a river is at once technical and personal, providing both a firm foundation for understanding the behavior of rivers--including instructions for getting started in backyard hydrology--and a wealth of firsthand observations by a thoughtful and experienced scientist. It will be of immediate interest and great use as we seek to develop, preserve, and appreciate our most fluid natural resource.

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About the Author:

Luna B. Leopold is Emeritus Professor of Geology at the University of California, Berkeley. Former Chief Hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and winner of the National Medal of Science, he is one of the world’s leading authorities on river hydraulics and geomorphology.

Review:

The strength of this book is the force of intellect and experience Leopold brings to his subject. His writing style is clear, his explanations lucid, the coverage comprehensive. This is an extremely personal, almost autobiographical book--it is certainly not a dry, equation-filled treatise. It ranks with the best of John McPhee, but in this hook the scientist speaks in his own voice. I recommend it highly. (Edwin E. Herricks, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

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Leopold, Luna B.
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