Voeikov, Aleksandr Ivanovich
Voeikov, Aleksandr Ivanovich
Born May 8 (20), 1842, in Moscow; died Jan. 27 (Feb. 9), 1916, in Petrograd. Russian climatologist and geographer; the founder of climatology in Russia. Corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1910).
In 1860, Voeikov entered the physics and mathematics department of St. Petersburg University; in 1861, when the university was closed because of student unrest, he left to study in Germany where he received a doctor of philosophy degree at the University of Göttingen (1865), defending the dissertation ” On Direct Insolation in Various Places of the Earth’s Surface.” In 1880 he received an honorary doctor of physical geography degree from Moscow University. In 1885 he became a professor at St. Petersburg University. Besides his many trips through the European part of Russia, the Caucasus, the Crimea, and Middle Asia, Voeikov traveled through Western Europe, South and Southwest Asia, and North, Central, and South America; he also visited southern China and Japan. Among Voeikov’s many works, the most significant is the fundamental work Climates of the Earth, Particularly of Russia (1884), which was the first to explain the physical essence of complicated climatic processes and examine their structure; it clarified the role of individual climate-forming factors and the interaction of climate with other components of nature.
Voeikov was the first to apply the method of balances to the study of climatic and geographic phenomena. The classification of rivers that he developed on hydrological regimen forms the basis of subsequent classifications. Voeikov set down the bases for the study of snow and for paleoclimatology. A large cycle of works was devoted to questions of the geography and economics of the population and the active influence of man on nature. He predicted the feasibility of developing crops of tea and citrus fruits in Transcaucasia and valuable species of cotton in Middle Asia, worked out the scientific bases for land reclamation and methods of increasing the harvest of agricultural crops, and suggested new areas for climatic health resorts.
Voeikov founded the Meteorological Commission within the Russian Geographic Society, established the first meteorological journal, Meteorologicheskii vestnik (1891-1935), and created a network of volunteer agroclimatological observers. After 1881 he represented Russian science at international geographic congresses. From 1892 to 1904 he was the editor of the geography department of the Brock-haus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary. Voeikov was one of the initiators and organizers of special geographic higher education and the first director of higher geographic courses (1915). He was a member of many Russian scientific societies and an honorary member of foreign ones. In 1949 the Main Geophysical Observatory was named after A. I. Voeikov on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.
WORKSIzbr. soch., vols. 1-4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948-57. (Biographical sketch and list of works.)
G. D. RIKHTER