Gregory, Ken

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Kenneth John (Ken) Gregory (1938 – 2020)


Ken Gregory gained his PhD in Physical Geography from University College London in 1962, for a thesis on the geomorphology of the North York Moors, and was appointed that year as a Lecturer in Geography at the University of Exeter (1962-1972) and later as Reader (1972-1976). Whilst at Exeter he completely revitalised studies of the geomorphology of SW England from Dartmoor to the Exe Valley. He also started his long list of postgraduates, many of which have gone on to be leading geomorphologists and influential scientists in their own right. His career at Southampton started in 1976 as the first professor of Physical Geography, going on to be Head of Department (1978-83), Dean of Science (1984-1987) and Deputy Vice Chancellor (1988-1992). He was appointed Warden of Goldsmiths University of London in 1992 and retired in 1998.

He served as Honorary Secretary (1974–77) and Chair (1985–86) of the British Geomorphological Research Group (BGRG), the earlier role coinciding with the time when the BGRG’s own journal was launched (initially Earth Surface Processes, with and Landforms being added later). When the BGRG became the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG) in 2006, Ken was the obvious choice to be the inaugural President (2008–14), whereupon he actively promoted the society, not least through modernisation of its Constitution.

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

Ken was a fluvial geomorphologist who made important contribution to the study of hydrological processes. His PhD thesis (‘Contribution to the Geomorphology of the North York Moors’) was a detailed and meticulous study that built on landscape interpretation approaches that were prevalent at the time but, quite radically, also began to integrate process-based understanding. During the necessary fieldwork, Ken’s interests in drainage networks and rivers started to evolve, as reflected in some of his earliest publications.

He was a leading scientist in the new quantitative geomorphology from the mid-1960s onwards. His book Drainage Basin Form and Process: A Geomorphological Approach (Wiley, 1973) co-written with one of this first students, Des Walling (Exeter University), was, and in many ways remains, the standard text on catchment geomorphology; habitually referred to as ‘Gregory and Walling’. It was a key volume in the transformation of British geomorphology from a descriptive study of landforms to a modern, quantitative, science. Whilst at Southampton he virtually invented ‘palaeohydrology’ as a sub-discipline in Europe.

Ken’s interests were wide including hydrology, slope processes, river channels, biogeomorphology, floods and more unusually the philosophy and history of the discipline about which he wrote extensively. He devoted much of his time to promoting geomorphology in areas of engineering and environmental policy, by for example editing The Fluvial Geomorphology of Great Britain for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee Geological Conservation Review Series (Springer, 1997). That geomorphology, and especially fluvial geomorphology, grew in stature in the 1970s-1990s was in large part due to Ken Gregory. He was still writing into his 80s with his last book being The Basics of Geomorphology (Sage, 2014) jointly written with John Lewin.

Ken had an international perspective and was President of the International Quaternary Union (INQUA) Commission on Global Continental Palaeohydrology (1979-1989). Through this project he developed strong geomorphological links with the then USSR, Poland, Scandinavia, and the USA. Ken was also instrumental in the development of remote sensing within the academic discipline of Geography having started using Landsat in the late 1970s he realised that satellite remote sensing was a growth area and particularly important for the future of Geography at Southampton.

He was also intimately involved with British Geomorphology through the British Geomorphological Research Group (BGRG) founded in 1960 (later serving with distinction as the President of the British Society for Geomorphology from 2008-2014, from which the BGRG had evolved) and the development of strong publishing links including establishing its own journal in 1977 (Earth Surface Processes). He was Chair of the organising committee for the 30th International Geographical Congress in Glasgow in 2004, Chair of the Final Assessors for Chartered Geographer (2004-2014), and Deputy Chair of Governors at Southampton Solent University (1999-2007) and of Council at Brunel University (2010-2018).

Ken was appointed CBE in 2007 for services to geography and higher education, has honorary degrees from the Universities of Southampton, Birmingham, Greenwich and Southampton Solent University, is a Fellow of University College London and of Goldsmiths University of London and received the Founders Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1993 and was granted an Honorary Fellowship in 2015.


Reference Material[edit]

University of Southampton Obituary at

Gurnell, A., Downs, P., Tooth, S. and Wharton, G., 2022. Professor Kenneth John Gregory (1938–2020): The career, contributions and legacy of an eminent geographer and fluvial geomorphologist. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.5377. This paper served as an introduction to a special issue of Earth Surface Processes and Landforms in memory of Ken Gregory. It includes a more complete list of publications.

Selected Publications[edit]


Gregory, K J and Walling, D E, Drainage Basin Form and Process: A Geomorphological Approach (Wiley, 1973)

Gregory, K.J., Walling, D.E. (Eds.), 1974. Fluvial Processes in Instrumented Watersheds. Institute of British Geographers Special Publication No. 6, 196 p.

Gregory, K.J. (Ed.), 1977. River Channel Changes. Wiley, Chichester, 450 p.

Gregory, K.J., 1980. The Yellow River. Wayland, Hove, 65 p.

Gregory, K.J. (Ed.), 1983. Background to Palaeohydrology: A Perspective. Wiley, Chichester, 506 p.

Goudie, A.S., Atkinson, B.W., Gregory, K.J., Simmons, I.G., Stoddart, D.R., Sugden, D. (Eds.), 1985. The Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Physical Geography. Blackwell, Oxford, 528 p.

Gregory, K.J., 1985. The Nature of Physical Geography. Edward Arnold, London, 276 p.

Gregory, K.J. (Ed.), 1987. Energetics of Physical Environment. Wiley, Chichester, 172 p.

Gregory, K.J., Walling, D.E. (Eds.), 1987. Human Activity and Environmental Processes. Wiley, Chichester, 466 p.

Gregory, K. J., Lewin, J., Thornes, J.B. (Eds.), 1987. Palaeohydrology in Practice: A River Basin Analysis. Wiley, Chichester, 370 p. Clark, M.J., Gregory, K.J., Gurnell, A.M. (Eds.), 1988. Horizons in Physical Geography. Macmillan Education, Basingstoke, 395 p.

Gregory, K.J. (Ed.), 1990. The Earth’s Natural Forces. Oxford University Press, New York 1990, 256 p.

Gregory, K.J., Walling, D.E. (Eds.), 1990. Man and Environmental Processes. Translated into Malay as Manusia dam Proses Persekitaran.

Gregory, K.J. (Ed.), 1991. The Guinness Guide to the Restless Earth. Guinness Publishing, 256 p.

Starkel, L., Gregory, K.J., Thornes, J.B. (Eds.), 1991. Temperate Palaeohydrology of the last 15,000 years. Wiley, Chichester, 548 p.

Gregory, K.J., 1992. Portuguese translation of The Nature of Physical Geography: A Natureza Da Geografia Fisica. Bertrana, Brazil, 367 p. Gregory, K.J., Starkel, L., Baker, V.R. (Eds.), 1995. Global Continental Palaeohydrology. Wiley, Chichester, 344 p.

Branson, J., Brown, A.G. and Gregory, K.J. (Eds.), 1996. Global continental changes: the context of palaeohydrology. Geological Society of London.

Benito, G., Baker, V.R., Gregory, K.J. (Eds.), 1998. Palaeohydrology and Environmental Change. Wiley, Chichester, 347 p.

Gregory, K.J. (Ed.), 1997. Fluvial Geomorphology of Great Britain. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Chapman & Hall, 347 p.

Gregory, K.J., 2000. The Changing Nature of Physical Geography. Arnold, London, 368 p.

Gregory, K.J., Benito, G. (Eds.), 2003. Palaeohydrology: Understanding Global Change, Wiley, Chichester, 396 p.

Downs, P.W., Gregory, K.J., 2004. River Channel Management. Arnold, London, 395 p.

Gregory, K.J. (Ed.), 2005. Physical Geography. 4 volumes. Volume I, 351 p; Volume II, 405 p; Volume III, 408 p; Volume IV, 375 p; Sage, London.

Gregory, K.J., Macklin, M.G., Walling, D.E. (Eds.), 2006. Past hydrological events related to understanding global change. Catena 66, (May, special issue), 187 p.

Herget, J., Dikau, R., Gregory, K.J., Vandenberghe, J. (Eds.), 2007. The fluvial system – past and present dynamics and controls. Special issue of Geomorphology 92, 120 p.

Gregory, K.J., Thorndycraft, V.R., Benito, G. (Eds.), 2008. The geomorphological and palaeohydrological response of fluvial systems to climatic, human and tectonic controls. Special Issue Geomorphology 98, 172 p.

Gregory, K.J., Simmons, I.G., Brazel, A.J., Day, J.W., Keller, E.A., Sylvester, A.G., Yánez-Arancibia, A., 2009. Environmental Sciences: A Companion. Sage, London, 441 p.

Gregory, K.J., 2010. The Earth’s Land Surface: Landforms and Processes in Geomorphology. Sage, London, 348 p.

Gregory, K.J., Goudie, A.S. (Eds.), 2011. The SAGE Handbook of Geomorphology Sage, London, 610 p.

Gregory, K.J., Lewin, J., 2014. The Basics of Geomorphology: Key Concepts. Sage, London, 231 p.

Gregory, K.J., Goudie, A.S. (Eds.), 2014. The SAGE Handbook of Geomorphology. Paperback edition. Sage, London, 610 p.

Herget, J., Gregory, K.J., Benito, G. (Eds.), 2015. Hydrological extreme events: modelling and significance for understanding global change, demonstrating multidisciplinary context. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie 59 Suplementary Issue 3, 198 p.


Gregory, K.J., 1962. The deglaciation of eastern Eskdale, Yorkshire. Proceedings Yorkshire Geological Society 33, 363–380.

Gregory, K.J., 1965. Proglacial lake Eskdale after sixty years. Transactions Institute of British Geographers 36, 19–162.

Bowen, D.Q., Gregory, K.J., 1965, A glacial drainage system near Fishguard, Pembrokeshire. Proceedings Geologists Association 76, 275–281.

Curtis, L.F., Doornkamp, J.C., Gregory, K.J., 1965. The description of relief in field studies of soils. Journal Soil Science 16, 16–30.

Gregory, K.J., 1966. Aspect and landforms in north-east Yorkshire. Biuletyn Peryglacjalny 15, 115–120.

Gregory, K.J., Brown, E. H., 1966. Data processing and the study of landform. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie 10, 237–263. Gregory, K.J., 1966. Dry valleys and the composition of the drainage net. Journal of Hydrology, 4, 327–340.

Gregory, K.J. and Walling, D.E., 1968. The variation of drainage density within a catchment. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 13(2), pp.61-68.

Walling, D.E. and Gregory, K.J., 1970. The measurement of the effects of building construction on drainage basin dynamics. Journal of Hydrology, 11(2), pp.129-144.

Gregory, K.J. and Walling, D.E., 1971. Field measurements in the drainage basin. Geography, pp.277-292.

Gregory, K.J. and Walling, D.E., 1973. Report: Fluvial Processes in Small Instrumented Watersheds in the British Isles. Area, 5(4), pp.297-302.

Gregory, K.J. and Park, C.C., 1974. Adjustment of river channel capacity downstream from a reservoir. Water Resources Research, 10(4), pp.870-873.

Gregory, K.J., 1976. Changing drainage basins. Geographical Journal, pp.237-247.

Gregory, K.J., 1977. Stream network volume: an index of channel morphometry. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 88(8), pp.1075-1080.

Gardiner, V., Gregory, K.J. and Walling, D.E., 1977. Further notes on the drainage density-basin area relationship. Area, pp.117-121

Pethick, J.S., Ferguson, R.I., Gerrard, A.J., Gardiner, V., Gregory, K.J. and Walling, D.E., 1978. Drainage Density-Basin Area Relationship. Area, 10(5), pp.349-355.

Gregory, K.J., 1979. Hydrogeomorphology: how applied should we become?. Progress in Physical Geography, 3(1), pp.84-101.

Brookes, A., Gregory, K.J. and Dawson, F.H., 1983. An assessment of river channelization in England and Wales. Science of the Total Environment, 27(2-3), pp.97-111.

Gregory, K.J., Gurnell, A.M. and Hill, C.T., 1985. The permanence of debris dams related to river channel processes. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 30(3), pp.371-381.

Gurnell, A.M., Gregory, K.J., 1987. Vegetation characteristics and the generation of runoff: analysis of an experiment in the New Forest. Hydrological Processes 1, 125–142.

Downs, P.W., Gregory, K.J. and Brookes, A., 1991. How integrated is river basin management?. Environmental management, 15(3), pp.299-309.

Gregory, K.J., Davis, R.J. and Downs, P.W., 1992. Identification of river channel change to due to urbanization. Applied Geography, 12(4), pp.299-318.

Gregory, K.J. and Davis, R.J., 1993. The perception of riverscape aesthetics: an example from two Hampshire rivers. Journal of environmental management, 39(3), pp.171-185.

Gregory, K.J., Gurnell, A.M., Hill, C.T. and Tooth, S., 1994. Stability of the pool‐riffle sequence in changing river channels. Regulated Rivers: Research & Management, 9(1), pp.35-43.

Gurnell, A.M., Gregory, K.J. and Petts, G.E., 1995. The role of coarse woody debris in forest aquatic habitats: implications for management. Aquatic conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems, 5(2), pp.143-166.

Chin, A. and Gregory, K.J., 2001. Urbanization and adjustment of ephemeral stream channels. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 91(4), pp.595-608.

Gregory, K.J., Gurnell, A.M. and Petts, G.E., 2002. Restructuring physical geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 27(2), pp.136-154.

Gregory, K.J., 2004. Human activity transforming and designing river landscapes: a review perspective. Geographica Polonica, 77, pp.5-20.

Gregory, K.J., 2004. Palaeohydrology and river channel management. Journal of the Geological Society of India 64, 383–394.

Kale, V.S., Gregory, K.J., Joshi, V.U., 2004. Progress in palaeohydrology: focus on monsoonal areas – an introduction. Journal of the Geological Society of India 64, 381–382.

Piégay, H., Gregory, K.J., Bondarev, V., Chin, A., Dahlstrom, N., Elosegi, A., Gregory, S.V., Joshi, V., Mutz, M., Rinaldi, M. and Wyzga, B., 2005. Public perception as a barrier to introducing wood in rivers for restoration purposes. Environmental Management, 36(5), pp.665-674.

Gregory, K.J., 2006. The human role in changing river channels. Geomorphology, 79(3-4), pp.172-191.

Gregory, K.J., Benito, G., Dikau, R., Golosov, V., Jones, A.J.J., Macklin, M.G., Parsons, A.J., Passmore, D.G., Poesen, J., Starkel, L. and Walling, D.E., 2006. Past hydrological events related to understanding global change: An ICSU research project. Catena, 66(1-2), pp.2-13.

Macklin, M.G., Benito, G., Gregory, K.J., Johnstone, E., Lewin, J., Michczyńska, D.J., Soja, R., Starkel, L. and Thorndycraft, V.R., 2006. Past hydrological events reflected in the Holocene fluvial record of Europe. Catena, 66(1-2), pp.145-154.

Chin, A., Daniels, M.D., Urban, M.A., Piégay, H., Gregory, K.J., Bigler, W., Butt, A.Z., Grable, J.L., Gregory, S.V., Lafrenz, M. and Laurencio, L.R., 2008. Perceptions of wood in rivers and challenges for stream restoration in the United States. Environmental management, 41(6), pp.893-903.

Gregory, K.J., 2011. Wolman MG (1967) A cycle of sedimentation and erosion in urban river channels. Geografiska Annaler 49A: 385–395. Progress in Physical Geography, 35(6), pp.831-841.