Voeykov, Aleksandr Ivanovich

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(b. Moscow, Russia, 20 May 1842; d. Petrograd, Russia [now Leningrad, U.S.S.R.], 9 February 1916). geography, climatology.

Voeykov’s parents died when he was five; and he spent his childhood on an uncle’s estate, where he received an excellent education that inclucded English, French, and German. In 1860 he entered the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of St. Petersburg University; but since the university was soon closed by the government because of student disorders, he continued his education at the universities of Heidelberg, Berlin, and Göttingen. At Göttingen and Berlin he studied meteorology, and in 1865 he defended a doctoral dissertation at Göttingen, “Ueber die directe Insolation und Strahlung an verschiedenen Orten der Erdoberfläche.”

On his return to Russia in 1866, Voeykov was elected to the Russian Geographical Society, in which he was active for fifty years. In 1870, while helping to outfit an expedition to northern Russia, he emphasized the necessity of studying the meteorology of that area, pointing out that atmospheric processes in the high latitudes must exert a strong influence on the climate and meterological conditions of the middle latitudes.

A year earlier, at the request of the Geographical Society. Voeykov had visited the network of meteorological observatories in western Europe; this led to extensive ties between the Russian Geographical Society and other European scientific institutions. In the spring of 1872 he studied the chernozem in Galicia, Bukovina, Walachia, Transylvania, and Austria; that fall and winter he traveled through western Europe, and most of 1873 was spent in the United States and Canada. Voeykov spent the last three months of 1873 in Washington, at the invitation of the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Henry, completing a manuscript by James Coffin entitled “Winds of the Globe,” which he supplemented with data on the winds of Russia.

For almost all of 1874 and the beginning of 1875 Voeykov traveled through South America, learning Spanish and Portuguese. In June 1875 he returned to Russia, and that October he began a journey to India, Java, southern China, and Japan. Because he was a scientist, Voeykov obtained the right to travel throughout Japan, accompanied by a young Japanese who knew Russian. On the basis of information supplied by the inhabitants and from his own observations of the vegetation Voeykov compiled a general map of the climate of Japan. In January 1877 he returned to St. Petersburg and published his observations.

In 1870, Voeykov became secretary of a meteorological commission organized within the Russian Geographical Society. He undertook the organization of meteorological observations, especially on precipitation, and sought to attract a large number of volunteer observers. In 1885 Voeykov obtained a government subsidy to organize twelve meteorological stations for gathering information of special value to agriculture. From its founding in 1891 until 1916, Voeykov was editor-in-chief of Meteorologicheskü vestnik.

In 1884 Voeykov was elected docent, in 1885 extraordinary professor, and in 1887 ordinary professor, and in 1887 ordinary professor at St. Petersburg University. He became director of the Higher Geographical Courses—the first higher educational institution for geography in Russia—in 1915. He was a member or honorary member of many Russian and foreign scientific societies but was not elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences until 1910.

Voeykov’s basic work was Klimaty zenwogo shara, v osobennosti Rossü (“Climates of the Earth, Particularly Russia” ; 1884), in which he generalized achievements in meterology, climatology, and hydrology, and his own scientific experiments. Although J. von Hann had published Handbuch der Klimatologie in 1883, Voeykov’s work was published in German, in revised form, in 1887. This circumstance is explained by the novelty of his treatment of the subject: along with descriptions of climates, he demonstrated the reasons for their differences, described the essential meteorological phenomena and climatic processes, and examined their development and interaction with other natural factors.

Before 1884 Voeykov had published several works on the circulation of the atmosphere on the earth’s surface and had shown the close relation of climate to the general circulation of the atmosphere. Emphasizing the particular importance of solar radiation as the moving force in that circulation, he believed that one of the most important problems for the physical sciences was the “introduction of an input-output table of solar heat received by the earth, with its spheres of air and water” (lzbrannye sochinenia, 167).

Voeykov was the first to establish the role of monsoons in the subtropics. He discovered the crest of the high barometric maximum (the Voeykov axis), formed over Asia in the cold months and extending from the Siberian anticyclone to western Europe.

In Klimaty zenwogo shara, Voeykov examined the most important climatic factors, indicating the primary importance of atmospheric moisture, solar radiation, and the circulation of air. He investigated all the stages of the hydrologic cycle and devoted separate chapters to atmospheric moisture, evaporation, cloud formation, precipitation, rivers, and lakes. He treated precipitation as the opposite of evaporation in the earth’s hydrologic cycle, maintaining that the relation between these processes directly determines the density of the river network and the pattern of occurrence of rivers and lakes: “Under stable, even conditions, the more abundant the precipitation and the less the evaporation from the surface of the soil and water, as well as from plants, the richer in running water the country will be. Thus rivers may be regarded as the product of climate” (lzbrannye sochinenia, I , 243).

Voeykov demonstrated the averaging influence of lower reaches of large rivers on the climatic conditions of the entire basin. Examining certain hydraulic and hydrological aspects of river currents (particularly the influence on the drainage of the permeability of the soil, the level of the river, and the moderating influence of lakes on the level of rivers flowing through them), he classified streams in relation to the character of their sources and, as he said, established nine main types in relation to climate. He also showed that if rivers reflect the climate at a given time, then lakes reflect climatic changes.

Voeykov was one of the first to calculate the annual flow of all the rivers of the earth, although his estimate was substantially less than the actual figure. He made the first scientifically based calculation of the balance between inflow and evaporation in the Caspian Sea.

Many of Voeykov’s works were devoted to the snow cover, and he was the first climatologist to detail its important influence on climate. Having established that the snow cover reflects solar radiation into space, he showed that it melts chiefly as a result of the action upon it of warm air masses. His general conclusion regarding the influence of snow on the heat balance of the earth was that for the entire planet, the warming influence of snow greatly exceeds the cooling effect; without the snow cover, the earth would be much cooler than it is. He also compared climates of present glacial regions with climate during the Ice Age.

Voeykov studied periodic and nonperiodic changes in climate; in particular, he disproved the erroneous belief that Central Asia was becoming drier.


I. Original Works. Voeykov published over 1,700 works, including “Ueber das Kilma von ost-Asien,” in Zeitschrift der Österriechischen Gesellschaft für die Meteorologie. 5 . no. 1 (1870), 39–42; “Dię atmosphärische Circulation, “Supp. 38 (1874) to Petermanns geographischen Mitteilungen, also in Russian in his lzbrannye sochinenia. II . 159-221; “Raspredelenie osadkov v Rossii˝ (“The Distribution of Precipitation in Russia”), in Zapiski Imperatorskago russkago geograficheskago obshchestrva po obschchei geografii, 6 . no. 1 (1875), 1–72; “Puteshestvie po Yaponii, iyuloktyabr 1876 g,” (“Journey Through Japan, July, Oct. 1876”). in lzyestiya Gosudarstvennogo russkogo geographicheskogo obschhestva. 13 , no. 4, sec. 2 (1877), 195–240; “Klimat oblasti mussonov Vostochnoy Azii; Amurskogo kraya, Zabaykalya, Manchzhurii, Vostochnoy Mongolii, Kitaya, Yaponii…” (“Climate of the Monsoon Regions of East Asia: The Amur Region, Transbaikalia, Manchuria, Eastern Mongolia, China, Japan…”). ibid., 15 . sec. 2 (1879), 321–410; and “Klimaticheskie uslovia lednikovykh yavleny nastoyaschchikh i proshedshikh” (“Climatic Conditions of Glacial Phenomena of the Present and Past”), in Zapiski Imperatorskago Mineralogicheskago obshchestva, 2nd ser., pt. 16 (1881), 21–90.

See also Klimatzy zenwogo shara, v osobennosti Rosii (“Climates of the Earth, Particularly Russia,” ; St. Petersburg, 1884), also in his lzbrannye sochinenia, 1, 161–750; Snezhny pokrov, ego vliyanie na klimat i pogodu i sposoby issledovania (“Snow Cover, Its Influence on Climate and Weather and Methods of Research” ; St. Petersburg, 1885); “O Klimate Tsentralnoy Azii na osnovanii nablyudeny chetyrekh ekspeditsy N. M. Przhevalskogo” (“The Climate of Central Asia on the Basis of Observations of N. M.Przhevalsky’s Four Expeditions”), in Nauchnve rezultaty puteshestvy przhevalskogo po Tsentralnoy Azii (“Scientific Results of Przhevalsky’s Travels Through Central Asia”; St. Petersburg, 1895), 239–281; “Klimat polesya” (“climate of Woodlands”), in Prilozhenia K “Ocherku rabot Zapadnoy ekspeditsii po osusheniy bolot za 1873-1898 gg.” (“Appendix to ’Sketch of the Work of the Western Expedition for Draining swamps in 1873-1898’ “; St.Petersburg, 1889), 1–132; “Klimat Indyskogo okeana i Indii” (“Climate of the Indian Ocean and India”), in Zapiski po gidrografii (1908), no 29, 178–263; “Oroshenie Zakaspyskoy oblasti tochki zrenia geografii i klimatologii” (“Irrigation of the Transcapsian Region from the point of View of Geography and Climatology”), in Izvestia Gosudarstvennogo russkogo geograficheskogo obschchestva, 44 no. 3 (1908), 131–160; Le Turkestan russe (Paris, 1914); “Klimaty ruskikh i zagranichnykh lechebnykh mestnostey” (“Climates of Russian and Foreign Therapetuic Locialities”), in Prakticheskaya meditsina (1915), no. 6, 87–176, and no. 10. 177–180; Izbrannye scochinenia (“Selected Works”), 4 vols. (Moscow, 1948-1957); and Vozdeystvie cheloveka na prirodu. Izbrannye stati (“The Influence of Man on Nature. Selected Articles”; Moscow, 1949).

II. Secondary Literature. See A. A. Grigoriev, “Rukovodyashchie klimatologicheskie idei A. I. Voeykova” (“Voeykov’s Guiding Climatologica Ideas”), in Voeykov’s Izvrannye sochinenia, I, 10–34; K. K.Markov, “A. I. Voeykov kak istoirk klimatov Zemli” (“Voeykov as Historian of the Climates of the Earth”), in Izvestiya Akademii nauk SSSR, Geog. ser. (1951), no. 3, 46–54; V. V. Pokshishevsky, “A. I. Voeykov i voprosy geograffii naselenia” (“Voeyko and Questions of the Geography of population”), in Voprosy geografii (1947), no. 5 33–40; and “A. I. Voeykov kak ekonomiko-geograf” (“Voeykov as Economic Geographer”), in Otechestennye economiko-geografy (“Native Economi Geographers”; Moscow, 1957), 275–283; and G. D. Rikhter, “Zhizein i deyatelnost A. I. Voeykova” (“Voeykov’s Life and Work”), in Voeykov’s Izbruannye sochinenia, I, 35–82.

I. A. Fedoseev