Fedorov, Evgenii Konstantinovich

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(b. Bendery, Bessarabia [now Moldavian S.S.R.], Russia, 10 April 1910; d. Moscow, U.S.S.R., 30 December 1981)

geophysics, hydrometeorology, polar exploration.

Fedorov’s father, Konstantin Nikolaevich, was an officer in the Russian Army and, after 1917, in the Red Army; his mother, Sabina Akimovna, was a seamstress. Fedorov completed secondary school at Gorkii and entered Leningrad University in 1928 After graduation in 1932 from the geophysics department of the Faculty of Physics, he joined the Hydrometeorological Service. During the winter of 1932–1933 he worked at a polar station in Tikhaia Harbor. At the same time he conducted magnetic and astronomical observations in Franz Josef Land.

On 23 November 1933 Fedorov married Anna Viktorovna Gnedich, one of the first Soviet women polar explorers and geophysicists; they had two sons and a daughter. During the winter of 1934–1935 Fedorov worked at a polar station on Cape Cheliuskin. Besides routine hydrometeorological observations, he made a number of magnetic determinations, traveling more than 1, 600 kilometers (1, 000 miles) while surveying an area of almost 15, 000 square kilometers (about 5, 790 square miles). In the years 1937 and 1938 Fedorov was one of the four workers at the first Severnyi Polius (North Pole) drifting station. Thenine-month undertaking, headed by the well-known polar explorer Ivan Dmitrievich Papanin, was exceptional in conception, execution, and scientific results. It paved the way for extensive exploration of the vast central polar basin. All the participants were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union and received doctorates in geographical sciences.

In 1939 Fedorov became head of the Hydrometeorological Service. As its director until 1947, and again from 1962 to 1974, he helped set up a wellequipped establishment that served the needs of the national economy, and it was prominent among the national services of the World Meteorological Organization.

In 1939 Fedorov was elected corresponding member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Between 1947 and 1955 he worked in the academy, first as head of the laboratory, and from 1949 as assistant director, of the Geophysical Institute. Later he held a number of prominent posts within the presidium of the academy (deputy chief scientific secretary, 1959–1960; chief scientific secretary, 1960–1962). In 1960 he was elected full member. At his initiative the Institute of Applied Geophysics was set up in 1956 within the Hydrometeorological Service; he headed the institute until 1968, and again from 1974 until his death. Under his leadership it made a considerable contribution to environmental studies.

Fedorov concentrated on a broad spectrum of problems related to hydrometeorology. He carried out geophysical investigations in the Arctic, studying magnetic anomalies and variations of the magnetic field. These investigations gave insight into the geophysical processes of this virtually unstudied area and contributed to the development of polar aviation and safe ship passage in the northern seas, thus stimulating exploration of the Arctic.

Fedorov’s observations made in the years 1937 and 1938 at Severy Polius number I disproved the then current belief that the central Arctic Ocean was under the constant influence of a vast anticyclone with its maximum at the pole. The data Fedorov collected were highly significant for long-range forecasting of ice conditions and stimulated new theories on ice movement in the central Arctic region.

Fedorov’s interests included weather and climate, water resources, the seas and oceans, and the ionosphere. He studied the earth’s magnetic and radiation fields, and also conducted theoretical and experimental research on the control of hydrometeorological processes, pollution of the environment, and the interaction between society and the environment.

In the 1950’s Fedorov embarked on studies of the control of meteorological phenomena that proved to be of great practical value. He directed studies on methods of controlling thunderstorm clouds aimed at preventing hail, believing that geophysical processes must be influenced in such a way that they serve the needs of humanity. He argued that it was possible to use their instability for such purposes when changes in the processes would require relatively small amounts of energy. Traditional description, continuous logging, and forecasting should be combined with the analysis of large-scale experiments.

Fedorov’s research stimulated, and contributed to, broad experimentation in geophysics. He particularly studied the physics of clouds, aerosols, and precipitation; radiation geophysics; and the physics of the upper atmosphere. He initiated research in the upper atmosphere. He initiated research in the upper atmospheric layers with the help of missiles and satellites, which soon became the new field of satellite meteorology. This research led to the establishment of a hydrometeorological service that was to provide immediate information on the state of the magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere as a whole, thereby ensuring reliable weather forecasts.

Because Fedorov’s activities required information on the state of the atmosphere and the hydrosphere on a continental, or even global, scale, he became increasingly aware of the close interaction between natural geophysical phenomena and human activities. He concluded that at that time, the progress of geophysical processes on earth was conditioned not only by natural laws but also by human activities that influenced the ways in which the workings of those laws were manifested.

Fedorov considered it essential to study the impurities in the atmosphere and in water, initiating such methods as the gamma-ray survey of snow and aerophotometric techniques for the assessment of pasture vegetation. Later in his career Fedorov devoted much of his efforts to protection of the environment, particularly against radioactive pollution of the biosphere. He introduced methods of determining chemical and radioactive pollution, setting up a system for the continuous monitoring of radioactivity and the extent of pollution of the environment. Fedorov stressed the importance of calculating the existing resources for the transformation of nature, which he called “the earth’s capacity,” focusing on the expansion of this “capacity.”

Fedorov’s contributions to hydrometeorology and the other earth sciences, starting with his first expeditions, received much recognition. In 1946 and in 1969, he was awarded the State Prize. In the years 1957 and 1958 Fedorov took part in the Geneva conference of technical experts who agreed that nuclear testing could be monitored by the individual nations. This led to the agreement banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in space, and under the seas. From 1963 to 1971 Fedorov was vice president of the World Meteorological Organization, and in 1977 he was awarded its gold medal.

Fedorov was a prominent political and public and figure; three times he was elected deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.; he was also a member of its Presidium. An enthusiastic peace activist, he chaired the Soviet Peace Committee beginning in 1965 and was vice president (1978–1981) of the World Peace Council.

Fedorov died at the age of seventy-one after a brief illness and was buried in Moscow.


Chasovye pogody: Sovetskaia gidrometeorologicheskaia sluzhba (“Sentinels of the Weather; Soviet Hydrometeorological Service”; Leningrad, 1970); Ekologicheskii krizis i sotsialnyi progress (Leningrad, 1977), translated into English as Man and Nature: The Ecological Crisis and Social Progress (New York, 1981); “Emkost zemli” (“Capacity of the Earth”), in Nauka narodnomu khoziaistvu (Moscow, 1979), 56–91; “From the Description of Nature to Its Planning,” in Soviet Geography Today, I, Aspects of Theory (Moscow, 1981), 132–156; Poliarnye dnevniki (“Polar Diaries”; Leningrad, 1979; 2nd ed., Mascow, 1983.).

V. V. Tikhomirov

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