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College of the Sciences

Geology Lecture: Alfred Wegener, Glaciers, and Continental Drift

Thursday, Oct 3, 2013
7:00 pm

EVENING LECTURE: A World of Ice: Alfred Wegener, Glaciers, and Continental Drift
Thursday, October 3, 2013
7:00 pm in CWU's Hebeler Hall Auditorium
Speaker:  Mott Greene, U of Puget Sound Professor of Science & Values


Alfred Wegener is most famous for his work on continental drift, but it's not generally known that he was an atmospheric physicist whose specialty was polar meteorology, that he did work in glaciology on three different expeditions to Greenland, and that his theory of Continental drift, first developed in 1912 was progressively transformed from a geological into a climate theory. Working together with his father-in-law, Wladimir Köppen, a famous climatologist deeply interested in the origin of ice ages,  Wegener produced three versions of his theory in 1920, 1922, and 1924 that show increasing emphasis through time on the causes of ice ages in both the northern and southern hemisphere. His work on continents was deeply influenced by his Greenland experience with icebergs and ice floes, pressure ridges, and the metamorphism of snow into ice. I will talk about this material and mention some of the work done by Harlan Bretz in Greenland after his work on the "Ice Age Flood,"  and talk about some similarities in the theories of these two scientists, and the way their work was treated by their respective scientific establishments.

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