Alfred Lothar Wegener (November 1, 1880 – November 1930) was a German polar researcher, geophysicist and meteorologist.
During his lifetime he was primarily known for his achievements in meteorology and as a pioneer of polar research, but today he is most remembered as the originator of the theory of continental drift by hypothesizing in 1912 that the continents are slowly drifting around the Earth (Kontinentalverschiebung). His hypothesis was controversial and not widely accepted until the 1950s, when numerous discoveries such as palaeomagnetism provided strong support for continental drift, and thereby a substantial basis for today's model ofplate tectonics. Wegener was involved in several expeditions to Greenland to studypolar air circulation before the existence of the jet stream was accepted. Expedition participants made many meteorological observations and achieved the first-ever overwintering on the inland Greenland ice sheet as well as the first-ever boring of ice cores on a moving Arctic glacier.
1.1 Early life and education
1.2 First Greenland expedition and years in Marburg
1.3 Second Greenland expedition
1.4 World War I
1.5 Postwar period and third expedition
1.6 Fourth and last expedition
2 Continental drift theory
3 Modern developments
4 Awards and honors
5 See also
7 Selected works
8 External links
From 1912, Wegener publicly advocated the existence of "continental drift", arguing that all the continents were once joined together in a single landmass and have drifted apart. He supposed that the mechanisms might be the centrifugal force of the Earth's rotation ("Polflucht") or the astronomical precession caused the drift. Wegener also speculated on sea-floor spreading and the role of the mid-ocean ridges, stating: the Mid-Atlantic Ridge ... zone in which the floor of the Atlantic, as it keeps spreading, is continuously tearing open and making space for fresh, relatively fluid and hot sima [rising] from depth. However, he did not pursue these ideas in his later works.
In 1915, in The Origin of Continents and Oceans (Die Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane), Wegener drew together evidence from various fields to advance the theory that there had once been a giant continent which he named "Urkontinent" (German for "primal continent", analogous to the Greek "Pangaea", meaning "All-Lands" or "All-Earth"). Expanded editions during the 1920s presented further evidence. The last edition, just before his untimely death, revealed the significant observation that shallower oceans were geologically younger.