The 2009 Ralph Alger Bagnold Medal is awarded to Gerard Govers for his critical insights in soil erosion processes through experimental and field research, including contributions to and evaluation of forecast models.
With over 130 papers in refereed journals, many of them highly cited within his field, Gerard Govers has offered an exceptionally well balanced view of soil erosion processes, approached through field measurements and their analysis, laboratory experimentation and both theoretical and applied models. He has also been one of the leading figures in establishing the qualitative and quantitative importance of tillage erosion – mechanical translocation of sediment in ploughed fields that often carries more material than other processes except during exceptional storms. In this sub-field, and with regard to soil erosion in general, he has played a critical bridging role between theoretical and empirical studies of soil erosion and its implications for the short and longer term.
In his early experimental work, he was a key figure in designing laboratory experiments and testing methods for analysis and prediction of sheetwash and rill erosion. In his later work he has moved more towards innovative ways of testing and validating the predictive capacity of erosion models against field evidence – both stratigraphic and geochronological.
This work has been achieved with colleagues at Leuven, research students and international collaborators, supported by local, national and international funding through the European Union and other bodies for research in Belgium, Europe, Ethiopia and South America. He has reported his work through active participation in EGU general Assemblies and other prestigious international conferences as well as through his many formal and informal publications.