Berson, Arthur Joseph Stanislav

views updated


BERSON, ARTHUR JOSEPH STANISLAV (1859–1942), Austrian meteorologist. Born in Neu-Sandec, Galicia, he worked at the Prussian Aeronautic Observatory later transferred to Lindenberg and Friedrichshafen. In 1899 he introduced new methods for the study of the air strata structure at heights of tens of miles above the earth. Berson employed kites and balloons of rubber and paper filled with hydrogen gas and attached them to thin metal threads. Berson, in balloons of his own design, rose to the upper atmosphere a number of times with instruments for the measurement of the air pressure, the air temperature, and the relative humidity. Berson also carried out his observations over Spitzbergen, the Arctic Ocean, East Africa, Brazil, the Indian Ocean, and Indonesia. From these observations of Berson, the notion of the troposphere and the stratosphere were accepted generally. In 1901 Berson and a companion reached a height of about seven miles without oxygen masks. Berson also sent up unmanned balloons to heights of 18 miles. These balloons contained recording instruments which, if the balloon exploded, would come down by means of small parachutes. He also used red balloons sent up at a fixed rate which could be tracked and thus determine the direction of the wind. During World War i this knowledge of the direction of wind at high altitudes was of great importance to the fighter planes. The observations and studies of Berson were first published in three volumes, together with those of R. Assmann, under the title Wissenschaftliche Luftfahrten (1899–1900).

[Dov Ashbel]