Romer, Eugeniusz Mikolaj
ROMER, EUGENIUSZ MIKOLAJ
(b. Lvov, Poland [now U.S.S.R.], 3 February 1871; d. Cracow, Poland, 28 January 1954)
Romer’s father, Edmund Romer, was an official in the Galician administration; his mother was Irena Körtvelyessy de Asguth. Both were members of the impoverished nobility. Romer attended Jagiellonian University in Cracow from 1889 until 1891, specializing in history and geography. In 1891 he went to Halle, where he studied with the geographer A. Kirchhoff, then to Lvov, where he spent two years working with the geobotanist A. Rehman. His doctoral thesis was concerned with climatology, specifically the distribution of heat over the face of the earth. In 1895 he studied geomorphology with A. Penck in Vienna, then the following year went to Berlin to continue his work on that subject with F. von Richthofen and to study meteorology with J. F. von Bezold, R. Assman, and A. Berson.
Returning to Poland, Romer taught geography in Lvov. In 1908 he published his first text, Szkolny atlas geograficzny (“School Geographical Atlas”), a hypsometric synthesis of the face of the entire earth, which went through a number of editions. He became professor of geography at the University of Lvov in 1911 and in 1916 brought out the encyclopedic Geograficzno-statystyczny atlas Polski (“Geographical-Statistical Atlas of Poland”). In 1919 Romer served as an expert on territorial affairs at the Paris Peace Conference, and at about the same time he organized the Lvov Institute of Geography, where he taught a large number of students. In 1921 he founded the Lvov Institute of Cartography and in 1924 a cartographical publishing house which, together with the periodical Polski przegląd kartograficzny (“Polish Cartographic Revue” founded by him in 1923); expedited the publication of the large number of atlases, maps, and globes that he brought out over the years. He made a major contribution to cartography, improving maps for both scientific and didactic purposes, and strongly advocated the superiority of contour maps to hachured ones.
Romer also did significant work in geomorphology. He viewed geomorphological processes as climatic phenomena, while using both the concepts of W. M. Davis and his deductive model. He rejected any interpretation of geomorphological processes that relied on tectonics; in his chief work on the subject, Tatrzańska epoka lodowa (“The Tatra Glacial Epoch” 1929), he demonstrated the specific nature of the glaciation that had occurred in Poland and posited cycles consisting of four glacial and three interglacial periods.
Climatology itself was one of Romer’s earliest interests, as is evident in his choice of subject for his doctoral thesis. His later work included studies of specific climatological problems and syntheses of the climate of Poland in which he incorporated the geographical principles set out in his other writings. His most notable publications of this sort were Pogląd na klimat Polski (“A View of the Climate of Poland” 1938) and O klimacie Polski (“On the Climate of Poland” 1939), which he based upon an analysis of isothermal and isohyetal maps, devoting particular attention to the trend of closely spaced lines and the mutual intersections of isotherms, as well as the migration of isarithms and the duration of the seasons.
World War II interrupted Romer’s work on his Wielki powszechny atlas geograficzny (“Great World Geographical Atlas”), which he had begun in 1936. During the conflict and the following occupation he spent most of his time in retreat in the monastery of the Resurrectionists in Lvov. In 1945 he became professor of geography at Jagiellonian University in Cracow.
Romer lived modestly with his wife, Jadwiga Rossknecht, and their two sons, Witold and Edmund. He was active in community affairs and research, and from 1908 on had participated in international scientific meetings and congresses. He was a member of a number of scientific societies, both Polish and foreign. In 1913 the government of the United States named a glacier at Glacier Bay, Alaska, in his honor, in recognition of the studies he had made of Alaskan fjords in that year.
I. Original Works. A number of Romer’s writings were collected in Wybòor prac (“Selected Writings”), 4 vols. (Warsaw, 1960–1964).
II. Secondary Literature. Vol. I of Wybór prac includes a comprehensive study by Julian Czẏewski, “Życie i dzialalność Eugeniusza Romera” (“The Life and Work of Eugeniusz Romer”), and a bibliography of more than 500 titles. See also Lucja Mazurkiewicz-Herzowa, Eugeniusz Romer (Warsaw, 1966), which also contains an extensive bibliography.