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Landmarks in the History of Science » Geoscience » 1st Edition, very rare [The Climates of the Geological Past] Die Klimate der geologischen Vorzeit, 1924

1st Edition, very rare [The Climates of the Geological Past] Die Klimate der geologischen Vorzeit, 1924

Autor: Wladimir Koppen - Alfred Wegener
Cod: 6033
In stoc: Da

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1st edition, exceptionally rare, of this work that pioneered and established the paleoclimatology as a geoscience. The book was created with really sustained efforts by three legendary scientists. It is absolutely fascinating to see how their unique contributions concluded in this remarkable monograph.

''All - save a few private copies of [Die Klimate der geologischen Vorzeit / The Climates of Geological Past] were destroyed during the Second World War, rendering the book essentially unavailable.’'

                                                            Alfred Wegener Institut, Germany, 07 October 2015

''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.’'

                                                              Schweizerbart Science Publishers, 2015

This work, obviously occured after Milankovitch published in 1920 the monograph under the title: Mathematical Theory of Heat Phenomena Produced by Solar Radiation (in French). ''Although the book went unnoticed by the majority of geologists, it immediately attracted the attention of Wladimir Koeppen, a widely known and greatly respected German climatologist. Thus, the arrival of a postcard from the great Koeppen caused no small stir in the Milankovitch household. He later write:

‘One day, this simple postcard, which I saved like a relic, will be found in my estate. It came from Hamburg, from Wladimir Koeppen, the great German climatologist and reffered to my recently Mathematical Theory. Gradually it was followed by another forty-nine letters and cards. In this second letter, Koeppen informed me that together with his son-in-law, Alfred Wegener, he was working on a book about the climates of the geological past. Already seventy-six years old, this scholar had recognized earlier than others the benefits that could be derived for the paleo-climatological problem from my theory, and invited me to collaborate.’

Milankovitch agreed willingly, and there followed a fruitful exchange of ideas between the Yugoslavian mathematician and the two Germans-one a famous climatologist, the other a leader among European geologists.

Koeppen indicated that diminution of heat during the summer half-year in north hemisphere is the decisive factor in glaciation. Seen the logic of this argument, Milankovitch began at once to calculate curves showing how summer radiation at latitudes 55°, 60° and 65° North varied over the past 650,000 years.’'

                                                                   John Imbrie - Katherine Palmer Imbrie, Ice Ages: Solving the Mistery, 1979, pp. 103-104

''After World War I, Alfred Wegener worked in Hamburg; he and Else were married and moved in with her parents. Close cooperation developed between Wegener and his father-in-law. Else wrote that her father first opposed the new ideas [of continental drift theory] but as he became more involved became convinced that the idea provided ‘paths through the labyrinth of palaeoclimates.'

She wrote again: 'Often my father waited impatiently for Alfred to come home and to discuss new arguments.' Wegener himself wrote of how he enjoyed: '... a daily exchange of ideas with Köppen, and I had the satisfaction that he, initially cool and doubtful, increasingly warmed to drift theory, and finally convinced himself that here the ‘red thread’ through the labyrinth of palaeoclimatology had been found. Several chapters were written in such close exchange of ideas that the bounds of intellectual ownership can no longer be decided.'

Four years of criticisms, support and hard work resulted in their book Die Klimate der geologischen Vorzeit [The Climates of the Geological Past] (1924).''
                                                                   Wolfgang R. Jacoby, Geoscientist, 22.09 October 2012
''Wladimir Köppen and Alfred Wegener’s book Klimate Der Geologischen Vorzeit [Climates of the Geologic Past], published in 1924, can be regarded as the foundation of the geologic discipline of paleoclimatology. Starting with a discussion of climatic indicators (e.g., glaciogenic features; coal; gypsum, salt deposits, desert sandstone; löss; soil coloration; fossil flora and fauna; coral reefs), these indicators were plotted on the present-day continents for different time intervals. Fitting present-day continents together into Pangaea, sequential paleogeographic maps displaying the distribution of reconstructed climate belts were produced for the Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Eocene, Miocene, and Pliocene; each map and time step showing the displacement of continental fragments with time starting with the breakup of Pangaea.

Following uniformitarian principles and modern distribution of climate belts (following Köppen’s climate classification system), latitudes were recreated and plotted on these maps (e.g., equator; 30°N/S; 60°N/S; South and North pole). A second significant idea associated with the book was the incorporation and application of the work of Milutin Milankovitch on determining orbital variations of insolation. On the behest of Köppen, Milankovic calculated summer radiation curves for latitudes 55/60/65°N over the last 650,000. The radiation curves were published as the final table in the book and was used to discuss Quaternary climate change and to provide an explanation to geologically determined cold and warm phases during the Quaternary ice age.’'

                                                                     Joachim Dorsch, 2014 GSA Meeting in Vancouver

''Alfred Wegener is famous because of his ideas on the origin of continents and oceans since 1912. It is less well known that Wegener published, together with his father-in-law Wladimir Köppen, on climate change in the geological past (Köppen & Wegener 1924).

This book is of interest because: 1) It contains an inventory of the arguments which Wegener used in his paleogeographic reconstructions. Early in the last century Köppen had developed concepts of modern global climate zones. The close cooperation between Wegener and Köppen led to their conviction that these zones could also be deduced from fossil climate indicators. 2) The book critically describes paleogeographic reconstructions for most of the Phanerozoic periods. 3) The book then ventures into hypothesizing about climate changes in Earth history. The most important element of this discussion stems from a close collaboration with Milankovitch. He claimed that the Late Cenozoic climate changes were controlled by variations of the earth ´s orbit around the sun generating differences in insolation. 4) Acceptance of the principles of the Milankovitch frequencies made it possible for the first time to establish a time scale of Late Cenozoic glacial-interglacial history. 

The orbital parameters calculated by Milankovitch can be substantiated by means of geological time series. Milankovitch’s frequencies can also be predicted for the future. Consequently, this reflects an important piece of tradition of our understanding of how climate evolved in the course of time, reaching from Köppen, Wegener and Milankovitch to modern days.''

                                                                     Joern Thiede, Koeppen Laboratory, Institute of Earth Science, Saint Petersburg 


Berlin, Gebrüder Borntraeger, 1924, 1st edition
8vo, pp. iv, 256, [1] l. of plate : 41 maps and diagrames
Gilt titling on spine and first cover, original cloth wrappers
Ex libr. copy in fine condition +

Price: $ 99,000.00