Luna Leopold — Pioneer of Water Science

Luna B. Leopold

Here’s a look back at the career of Luna B. Leopold from the United States Geological Service. They are running a series of articles to honor Earth Science Week, an effort to introduce students to careers in the geosciences.

Everyone interested in water issues should read Dr. Leopold’s book Water, Rivers and Creeks. He hits the subject from stem to stern.

Here’s an excerpt from the USGS article:

“Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children’s lifetime. The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land.” –Luna B. Leopold, Former USGS Chief Hydrologist

Luna B. Leopold, son of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold, arrived at the USGS in 1950. For the next two decades, Leopold revolutionized hydrologic sciences within and outside the USGS. He is best known for his work in the field of geomorphology, the study of land features and the processes that create and change them. His work is often cited today by leading scientists in water research, both at the USGS and around the world.

Leopold had a lasting impact on the field of water science. He knew the broader importance of our water resources and that humans can have great impact on whether water is available, now and in the future. Our society depends on safe and reliable water supplies, as do the Earth’s diverse and valuable ecosystems. Today, our nation is faced with the challenge of balancing a finite freshwater supply between competing needs, such as agriculture, drinking water, energy production, and ecosystems.

Leopold recognized the fundamental value of science in making smart decisions about water resources and laid the groundwork for modern water science. During his tenure he transformed USGS water research into a professionally-recognized provider of water quality and availability information.

Here’s a link to an old Coyote Gulch post around the time that he passed on. Scroll down to read the post. Here’s the link to the March 5, 2006 Washington Post obituary — Luna B. Leopold, 90; USGS Hydrologist”.

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