R. A. Bagnold

(1896—1990) soldier and geomorphologist

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(1896–1990) Brigadier Ralph Alger Bagnold, born near Devonport, Devon, on (3 April 1896), was a professional soldier who became widely known for his contributions to understanding the physics of sediment transport by wind and water. After serving in Flanders during the First World War, he took an engineering degree at Cambridge University before rejoining the army and being posted to Egypt, where he developed an interest in sand dunes and desert exploration. After retiring from the army in (1935) he undertook laboratory experiments at Imperial College to aid interpretation of his field observations. The results of this work were published in a series of pioneering papers which had a major impact. Bagnold's early work was initially published in (1941) as The physics of blown sand and desert dunes; it remains a classic. Recalled to the army in 1939, Bagnold returned to Egypt, where he developed the Long Range Desert Group, a specialist unit which used his knowledge of the desert to harass the enemy with unexpected attacks. He retired again in (1944), and after a short spell as Director of Research for Shell Oil, he returned to his studies of sand transport, extending his interest in wind transport to include sediment movement by running water and waves.


From The Oxford Companion to the Earth in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.

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