Shokalsky, Yuly Mikhaylovich

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(b. St. Petersburg, Russia, 17 October 1856; d. Leningrad, U.S.S.R., 26 March 1940)

oceanography, geography.

Fascinated by geography as a child, shokalsky enrolled at the Naval College in St. Petersburg, in 1873. Although it became apparent on his first student voyages that he was strongly inclined to seasickness, he did not abandon his chosen career. After graduating in 1877, he began service with the Baltic fleet; but realizing that his command responsibilities did not leave him time to pursue his scientific interests, he completed his education at the Naval Academy from 1878 to 1880.

In 1881 Shokalsky became head of the marine meteorology division at the Central Physics Observatory (now the A. I. Voeykov Central Geophysical Observatory in Leningrad). A year later his first scientific paper, on weather forecasting, was published. From 1883 to 1908 he taught geography and marine description at the Naval College: and ; from 1908, physical geography, meteorology and , later, oceanography at the Naval Academy, where he was the first professor of this subject in Russia. Shokalsky was a member of the fleet’s department of hydrography, directing its central naval library from 1890 and the hydrometeorological section from 1907.

From 1900 to 1915 Shokalsky developed a large-scale project for oceanographic research and participated in the preparations for the expedition of the icebreakers Taymyr and Vaygach to the Arctic Ocean—the expedition that discovered Severnaya Zemlya. He was also one of the organizers of the Eleventh International Congress on Navigation, held in St. Petersburg in 1908. Shokalsky’s plan, formulated in 1902, for the creation of a marine science center was realized in 1921 with the establishment in Monaco of the International Hydrographic Organization.

Elected president of the Russian Geographic Society in 1914, Shokalsky made a major contribution to cartography, geomorphology, terrestrial hydrology, glaciology, and geodesy. In Okeanografia (1917), his most important work, he postulated the mutual dependence of all marine phenomena; this concept was subsequently elaborated to include the idea of a “worldwide ocean,” an unbroken totality of all interconnected bodies of salt water. In addition to discussing physical phenomena, Shokalsky gave a full description of the methodology and techniques of shipboard observation. The work, which became extremely popular both in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, was awarded prizes by the Russian Academy of Sciences (1919) and by the Paris Academy of Sciences (1923). It is still of value.

In 1909 the Hydrographic Administration had commissioned Shokalsky to plan and determine the methodology of a comprehensive oceanographic expedition to the Black Sea. The project was to include all branches of marine science and would extend to adjacent basins; the Kerchenskiy Proliv, Bosporus, and Dardanelles straits, and the seas of Azov and Marmara. Although Shokalsky completed plans for the expedition in 1914, it was delayed for nine years by the outbreak of World War I and the Soviet Revolution.

During the first year the study comprised only two hydrological sections taken from the narrowest part of the Black Sea—from Cape Sarych, in the southern Crimea, to Inebolu, on the Anatolian coast of Turkey. By 1925 Shokalsky had extended the survey to the entire Black Sea, and its work was completed 1935 with a long winter cruise. During the twelve-year expedition fifty-three voyages were made, and over 1.600 hydrological samples and approximately 2,000 soil and biological samples were taken. Data obtained on the density of seawater in relation to depth discredited the concept of an upper layer, containing atmospheric oxygen in solution, distinct from a lower, hydrosulfidic layer. Instead, the information indicated a high mobility of both layers and a constant interexchange. Extremely long cores of earth were also taken from the seabed; one, 380 centimeters in length, was a record at the time.

Despite his advanced age, Shokalsky remained active during the 1930’s he served on the commission to develop the programs of the Second International Polar Year (1932–1933) and, with V. V. Shuleykin and N. N. Zubov, strove for the inclusion of oceanographic studies. He also was responsible for compiling a new physical map of the North Polar region. In 1933 he was a member of the organizational committee of the Fourth Hydrologic Conference of Baltic Nations, held at Leningrad; was a member of the presidium of the marine section; and the chairman of the Commission on the [Aquatic] Balance of the Baltic Sea. The following year, at the age of almost eight, he was the Soviet delegate to the Fourteenth International Geographical Congress, in Warsaw.

From 1929 until his death Shokalsky taught oceanography at Leningrad University; his lectures in general oceanography were supplemented by a course in regional oceanography that was entirely of his own devising.

Shokalsky was a member of fifteen foreign geographic societies and received an honorary doctorate in geography from the University of Bordeaux. He was an honorary member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, honorary president of the Russian Geographic Society, and received the title “honored scientist.”


I. Original Works. The most important of Shokalsky’s more than 1,300 publications are “O predskazanii veroyatnoy pogody i shtormov” (“On Forecasting Weather and Storms”), in Morskoi sbornik, 192 no. 10 (1882), 87–125, his first scientific paper; “Ocherk razvitia fiziki okeanov” (“Essay on the Development of the Physics of Oceans”), in Fiziko-matematichesky ezhegodnik, 1 (1900), 158–207; “Vzglyad na sovremennoe sostoyanie okeanografii” (“View of the Contemporary State of Oceanography”) in Lyvestiya Russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva, 43 (1911), 503–520; Okeanografia (Petrograd, 1917: 2nd ed., 1959), his major work; Geografichersky atlas v 32 tablitaskh (“Geographic Atlas in 32 Tables”; Leningrad, 1930); Fizicheskaya Okeanografia (Oceanography of the Black Sea”), in Doklady sovetskoy delegatsii na Mezhdunarokdnom geograficheskom kongresse v Varshave, no. 14 (1934); “O rabotak po okeanografii v Mirovom okeane” (“On Papers About Oceanography in the World Ocean”), in Doklady prochitannye na Tretemplenume gruppy geografii i geofiziki Akademii nauk SSSR (“Reports Read at the Third Plenum of the Geography and Geophysics Group of the Soviet Academy of Sciences”: Moscow, 1937), 5–18; “Okeanograficheskie issledovania Soyuza SSR za 20 let” (“Twenty Years of Oceanographic Investigation in the U.S.S.R.”), in Matematika i estestvoznanie v SSSR (“Mathematics and Natural Science in the U.S.S.R.”: Moscow, 1938), 901–917: and “Kartografirovanie morey Sovetskogo Soyuza,” in Dvadtsat let sovetskoy kartografii i geodezii, 1919–1939 (Moscow, 1939), pt.2, 162–190.

II.Secondary Literature. See E. Andreeva, Y. M.Shokalsky (Leningrad, 1956); Pamyati Yulia Mikhaylovicha Shokalskoso. Sbornik statey i materialov, I (Moscow-Leningrad, 1946); and Z. Y. Shokalskaya, Zhiznenny puty Y. M. Shokalskogo (“The Life of...Shokalsky”: Moscow, 1960).

A. F. Plakhotnik