WEGENER, Alfred Lothar
Mitteilung aus Justus Perthes’ geographischer Anstalt, 58, 185-195; 253-256; 305-309, 1912.
Wegener originated the theory of continental drift in this paper on the origin of continents, which he conceived after being struck by the apparent correspondence in the shapes of the coastlines on the west and east sides of the Atlantic, and supported with extensive research on the geological and paleontological correspondences between the two sides. He postulated that 200 million years ago there existed a supercontinent (“Pangaea”), which began to break up during the Mesozoic era due to the cumulative effects of the “Eötvös force,” which drives continents towards the equator, and the tidal attraction of the sun and moon, which drags the earth’s crust westward with respect to its interior. Wegener’s theory attracted little interest until 1919, when he published the second edition of his treatise Die Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane.
Subjects: BIOLOGY › Ecology / Environment, EVOLUTION
Berlin: Gebrüder Bornträger, 1924.
Translated as The climates of the geological past. Die Klimate der geologischen Vorzeit. Reproduction of the original German edition and complete English translation. Faksimile-Nachdruck der deutschen Originalausgabe und komplette englische Neuübersetzung. Edited by Jörn Thiede; Karin Lochte; Angelika Dummermuth. Translated by Bernard Oelkers. Stuttgart, Schweizerbart, 2015.
"Wegener is best known for his theory of continental drift (The Origin of the Continents and Oceans, 1915). Less widely known, but equally important, are the studies he conducted on the climates of the past (with his colleague and father-in-law, Wladimir Köppen), which they jointly published (this book). Only one edition of the book was published, but unfortunately, all – save a few private copies – were destroyed during the second World War, rendering the book essentially unavailable.
"The discussion of the course and causal relationship of climates and climate change in the geological past are of principal scientific interest. Important elements of the discussions herein stem from the close collaboration with Milutin Milankovitch (who contributed entire sections of text, but is not named as an author). Building on the principles of the Milankovitch frequencies allowed Köppen and Wegener – for the first time, early in the last century – to establish a precise time scale of Late Cenozoic glacial-interglacial cycles. More recently, the orbital parameters originally calculated by Milankovitch were refined using time series data from deep-sea sediments and ice cores. Furthermore, Milankovitch’s cycles may be extrapolated into the future to predict climate change. This very book, in which Köppen and Wegener roll out their theory, is therefore an important publication which has early on shaped our understanding of how climate has evolved and continuously evolves in the course of time." (publisher).
Subjects: Bioclimatology › Paleoclimatology, EVOLUTION › Human Origins / Human Evolution