Conrad, Victor

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CONRAD, VICTOR

CONRAD, VICTOR (1876–1962), Austrian meteorologist. Born in Vienna, Conrad studied under Josef Pernter, who offered him a post on the staff of the University of Vienna in the department of meteorology and magnetism. Conrad set up a section for the observation of electricity in the air. His results led the way to the discovery of cosmic rays several years later. In 1910, he was appointed head of the department of cosmic physics at the University of Czernowitz in Bukovina and worked there until the outbreak of World War i. With the cessation of hostilities in 1918, he returned to the University of Vienna and joined the Institute of Meteorology. Here he set up a seismographic station for the observation of earthquakes and other geophysical problems. From 1920 to 1938, he occupied himself to a large extent with bioclimatic questions. In 1926, Conrad was appointed editor of the geophysical quarterly Gerlands Beitraege zur Geophysik, which he edited until 1938. In the 39 volumes which appeared under his editorship, much important material on various problems in the field of geophysics was published. He also published two journals that dealt with physical-cosmic subjects and problems of applied geophysics. When the famous meteorologist Wladimir Koppen, who had settled in Austria after his retirement from the Meteorological Institute in Russia, began to publish his extensive Handbuch der Klimatologie, Conrad wrote the chapter on climatic elements and their dependence on terrestrial influences, which ran into a volume of over 500 pages. In 1938, when the Nazis annexed Austria, Conrad escaped to the United States in utter poverty. He lectured at the University of Pennsylvania from 1939 to 1940 and then went to Boston. There he was awarded a scholarship by Harvard University, where he remained until his death. During his years in the United States he published two works: Fundamentals of Physical Climatology (1942), and, together with Professor L.W. Pollak (of Dublin, Ireland), Methods in Climatology (1944, second edition 1950).

[Dov Ashbel]