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WEGENER, Alfred.
Mit Motorboot und Schlitten in Grönland.


pp. IV, 192. Frontispiece, folding panorama, folding map, 71 illustrations on 46 plates. Original lemon-yellow pictorial cloth, very light bump in the top edge of the front board also visible though diminished, in the first half of the text, a very nice copy.

*ALFRED LOTHAR WEGENER (November 1, 1880 – November 1930) German polar researcher, geophysicist and meteorologist.He is widely credited today with setting the foundation for the concept of plate tectonics with his early work on continental drift. This was first demonstrated to the public in Petermanns Geographischen Mitteilungen, 1912, with the first book-form edition in 1915. It was largely ignored and noticed mainly in critical opposition - in England, however, his theory found support from Arthur Holmes, and in South Africa from Alexander du Toit. New evidence in the 1950s, largely from the palaeomagnetic studies of Runcorn and Blackett, demonstrated the validity and indeed, revolutionary, nature of his thesis. This work has overshadowed the equally fundamental research undertaken on his four scientific expeditions to Greenland. In 1905 Wegener was working in the Aeronautischen Observatorium Lindenberg with his brother Kurt. Both had an interest in meteorology and polar research, were the first to use weather balloons to track air masses and on a balloon ascent launched to carry out meteorological investigations and to test a celestial navigation method, they set a new record for a continuous balloon flight, 52.5 hours from April 5–7, 1906. Later in that year, Alfred was a member of the Danish-led expedition to explore the last unknown area of northern Greenland. He established the first meteorological station in Greenland, and was the first to investigate air flow in the Arctic climate zone with kites and tethered balloons. He returned to Germany in 1908, to teach at the University of Marburg. His second Greenland venture, also Danish-led by Johan Peter Koch, took place in 1913. Wegener and Koch overwintered on the ice in NE Greenland, the first to do so, and also the first to take ice-cores. During that summer, the expedition crossed the inland ice towards the west coast, nearly succumbing to starvation a few kilometres from the end of their journey. They were rescued by chance by a travelling local clergyman. Wegener, having survived this hazardous trip, returned to Germany, married and resumed his teaching post at Marburg. And despite a period as an infantry office at the front in WWI, he survived that as well, completing the book version, in 1915, of the now classic work on continental drift. He also published some 20 papers on meteorology and geophysics, and investigated the Treysa meteorite. After the war, Wegener took the post as a meteorologist at the German Naval Observatory and moved to Hamburg. He then taught at the University in Hamburg, until, in 1924, he moved to Graz and another university post. His third Greenland exploration took place in 1929 and is described in detail in the above title offered. It was the first expedition to use innovative, propeller-driven snowmobiles and laid the basis for his fourth, and last, expedition in the following year, 1931. This expedition had a complement of 14, led by Wegener himself and included his brother Kurt - they set themselves the task of establishing three permanent science stations to measure the thickness of the ice and to make year-round weather observations. Wegener died during a trip to replenish one of these stations, his body not being discovered until the following year, half-way to the station, where he had been buried by his Greenlander companion. This companion tried to return to base but died en route and is now reckoned to lie beneath 100 metres of snow and ice, together with the diary of the trip that Wegener always kept. Wegener's third expedition, described in the book offered above, was the only one of the four that he undertook, in which there was no tragedy. On his first, the leader and two crew members were killed; on the second, the expedition was almost wiped out by a calving glacier, and the leader broke his leg falling into a crevasse - and on the fourth, he and Villumsen died. Wegener was meticulous about keeping diaries, and this, third, voyage was the only one fully annotated during his life-time. He was the first to formulate the theory of moving continents, the first to investigate polar air movements and to elaborate the jet-stream theory of air masses, the first to take ice-core samples, the first to use motor-driven sleds. One of expedition scientists, Fritz Loewe, also went on the final, fourth, trip and together with Wegener's widow, Else, wrote an account of it - it was published in 1933, translated into English in 1939. Wegener's own account of the third expedition has not been translated; produced in the socio-political turmoil of 1930, is extremely scarce today.

Velhagen & Klasing. Bielefeld und Leipzig.

Date Published: 1930.

Stock No. 60333

Price: £1,200.00