when was alfred wegener born

Alfonso López Wegener (1880-1930) was a German meteorologist, arctic explorer, and geophysicist best known for his theory of continental drift. On November 1, 1880, Alfred Wegener, the son of an Evangelical preacher, was born in Berlin.

Throughout his academic career, he studied in Heidelberg, Innsbruck, and Berlin. Soon after, he joined the Danish expedition to Greenland in 1906-1908 as the expedition’s meteorologist due to his growing interest in arctic climatology. During the winter of 1912-1913, he went back to the area and finished the research he had begun during his first trip there.

At Marburg, where he lectured with enviable clarity on meteorology and astronomy, Wegener made his permanent home in 1908. It was during this time that he developed the concept of continental drift and finished writing up his research on Greenland; his textbook Thermodynamik der Atmosphäre (1911) went through several printings and became a standard in the field. During World War I, he was in the fighting.

In addition to his time as a professor of meteorology and geophysics at the University of Graz, Wegener worked as a scientific civil servant for the Deutsche Seewarte in Hamburg’s Meteorological Department (1919–1924). (1924-1930).

Although Wegener is best known for his work in the polar regions, his conventional meteorological contributions are also widely lauded. But his theory of continental drift is what brought Wegener the most fame.

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When he saw the east and west Atlantic coastlines side by side in 1910, he was stunned by their similarity. This, along with his serendipitous interpretation of evidence pointing to a land bridge between Brazil and Africa, prompted him to look into the geologic and paleoclimatology evidence for his rapidly developing continental drift theory.

Scientist Alfred Wegener Early Life

It was in Berlin, Germany, that Alfred Lothar Wegener entered the world on November 1, 1880. It was an orphanage that Wegener’s father oversaw during Wegener’s formative years. Early in his academic career, Wegener attended universities in both Germany and Austria to study

Scientist Alfred Wegener Early Life

the earth and physical sciences. In 1905, he received a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Berlin. The Berlin Urania Observatory hired him as an assistant for a short time.

While studying for his doctorate in astronomy, Wegener branched out into the fields of meteorology and paleoclimatology (the study of climate change on Earth over time). His expedition to Greenland lasted from 1906 to 1908, and it was there that he learned about polar weather.

To better study the climate of our planet, Wegener set up a weather observatory in Greenland. That was the first of four risky expeditions Wegener would make to the icy island. The others happened in 1912-1913 and 1929-1930.

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What Caused Alfred Wegener’s Death?

In 1930, Wegener embarked on his final expedition to Greenland to establish a winter weather station to study the jet stream above the North Pole.

What Caused Alfred Wegener's Death

Severe weather prevented Wegener and the other 14 explorers and scientists from getting an early start on the journey and made it extremely difficult for them to reach the weather station.

Sometime later, a dozen of these men would decide to head back to the coast camp where the rest of their group was waiting.

Five weeks after setting out, Wegener and the other members of the expedition arrived at Eismitte (Mid-Ice, a site near the center of Greenland). Sometime in November 1930, at the age of 50, Wegener is thought to have perished after getting lost on his way back to base camp.

What Will Happen To Alfred Wegener’s Legacy?

Although many scientists disagreed with Wegener and his theory of continental drift and Pangaea, many of whom believed the oceanic crust was too rigid to permit the movement of tectonic plates, Wegener remained committed to it for the majority of his life.

What Will Happen To Alfred Wegener's Legacy

The scientific community had largely rejected his ideas by the time of his death in 1930. It wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists started seriously investigating seafloor spreading and plate tectonics, lending credence to the theories.

The studies were framed by Wegener’s ideas, and their findings lent credence to his hypotheses. To put to rest any remaining skepticism, in 1978 the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS) provided hard evidence of continental movements.

Today, scientists appreciate Wegener’s work because it was an early attempt to explain the Earth’s landscape. Not only are his polar expeditions lauded, but so is the work of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, which conducts groundbreaking studies in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Both a lunar and a Martian crater bear Wegener’s name.


German meteorologist and geophysicist Alfred Wegener, born Alfred Lothar Wegener on November 1, 1880, in Berlin, Germany, and passing away in Greenland on November 30, 1930, is credited with developing the first comprehensive statement of the continental drift hypothesis.


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    I am an author and a public speaker. I was born in India and have travelled to many different countries. I have a masters in public communication from California University and I love to write about famous peoples from different industries.

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