Vladimir Wiese

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Vladimir Wiese
Vladimir Yulievich Wiese in the expedition of Georgy Sedov. Off the coast of Franz Josef Land
Vladimir Wiese in 1914
Born Vladimir Yulyevich Wiese
(1886-02-21)21 February 1886
Tsarskoe Selo
Died 19 February 1954(1954-02-19) (aged 67)
Nationality Russian
Occupation scientist

Vladimir Yulyevich Vize (Russian: Владимир Юльевич Визе; 21 February 1886, Tsarskoe Selo – 19 February 1954, Leningrad), was a Russian scientist of German descent who devoted his life to the study of the Arctic ice pack. His name (spelt "Wiese" in German) is associated with the Scientific Prediction of Ice Conditions theory.

Vize was a member of the Soviet Arctic Institute and an authority on polar oceanography. He was also the founder of the Geographico-hydrological School of Oceanography.

Arctic expeditions

Wiese on a 2000 Russian stamp

In 1912–14 Professor V. Yu. Vize went with G. L. Sedov’s expedition on St. Foka to Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. After the Russian Revolution Professor Vize went on a number of Soviet Arctic expeditions.

In 1924 oceanographer Vize, studied the drift of Georgy Brusilov's ill-fated Russian ship St. Anna when she was trapped on the pack ice of the Kara Sea. Professor Vize detected an odd deviation of the path of the ship's drift caused by certain variations of the patterns of sea and ice currents. He deemed that the deviation was caused by the presence of an undiscovered island whose coordinates he was able to calculate with precision thanks to the availability of the successive positions of the St. Anna during its drift. The data of the drift had been supplied by navigator Valerian Albanov, one of the only two survivors of the St. Anna.

Finally the island was discovered on 13 August 1930 by a Soviet expedition led by Otto Schmidt aboard the Icebreaker Sedov under Captain Vladimir Voronin. The island was named Vize Island after Professor Vize who was at the time aboard the Sedov and who was able to set foot on the island whose existence he had predicted.

In July 1931 Professor V. Yu. Vize led an expedition on icebreaking steamer Malygin to Franz Josef Land and the northern part of the Kara Sea. He carried out meteorological, electromagnetic and hydrological observations during this expedition, along with other scientists, like N. V. Pinegin (Head of the Arctic Institute Museum) and R. V. Khutsishvili. Other members included technicians whose mission was to locate a suitable place for a Soviet floatplane base in Franz Josef Land. Captain D.T. Chertkhov was in command of the icebreaker. During this expedition German airship Graf Zeppelin made a rendezvous with icebreaker Malygin at Bukhta Tikhaya in Hooker Island, Franz Josef Land.

At Rudolf Island Professor Vize and N. V. Pinegin recovered artifacts from the abandoned huts of the 1904–1905 Ziegler-Fiala Polar Expedition to Zemlya Frantsa Josifa. His intention was to carry out deep-sea oceanographic research in the Arctic basin, but owing to fog and bad weather he reluctantly gave up and the expedition headed south. He had also hoped to carry out oceanographic research in the then little-explored northern part of the Kara Sea, but the ice concentrations became progressively heavier until it was decided to turn back.

In this Arctic expedition Professor Vize’s scientific zeal was tempered by Captain Chertkhov's prudent decisions. Even so, the expedition was quite successful. Surface water temperatures were taken at 295 locations, water samples were taken from 273 stations, and meteorological observations were duly taken every four hours.

In 1937 Professor Vize went on Soviet icebreaker Sadko with R. L. Lazarevich and N. Evgenov on an expedition. Its goal was to sail to Henrietta, Zhokhov and Jeannette Islands, in the De Long group and carry out scientific research. The purpose of the expedition was also to find out how could the Northern Sea Route be used for regular shipping. But the Soviet naval authorities changed the plans and the ice-breaker was sent instead to help ships in distress in the Kara and Laptev Seas.

The Sadko, however, became itself trapped in fast ice at 75°17'N and 132°28'E in the region of the New Siberian Islands. Two other Soviet icebreakers, the Sedov and the Malygin who were in the same area researching the ice conditions, became trapped by sea ice as well and drifted helplessly.

Owing to persistent bad weather conditions, part of the stranded crew members and some of the scientists could only be rescued in April 1938. And only on 28 August 1938, could Icebreaker Yermak free two of the three ships at 83°4'N and 138°22'E. The third ship, Sedov, had to be left to drift in its icy prison and was transformed into a scientific Polar Station. It kept drifting northwards in the ice towards the Pole, very much like Fridtjof Nansen's Fram had done in 1893–96. There were 15 crew aboard, led by Captain K. S. Badigin and W. Kh. Buinitzki.

During the long drift Professor Vize and his fellow scientists took 415 astronomical measurements, 78 electromagnetic observations, as well as 38 depth measurements by drilling the thick polar ice during their 812-day stay aboard the Sedov. Finally they were freed between Greenland and Svalbard by icebreaker Joseph Stalin on 18 January 1940. The crew and scientists were welcomed back in the Soviet Union as heroes.

After 22 years from his death, R/V of Arctic and Antarctic research institute (6934t) was named ("Professor Viese") in his honour.

Scientific works

His works include:

  • Morya Sovetskoy Arktiki. (Russian) Moscow-Leningrad 1948
  • The expedition on board the icebreaking steamer “Malygin” to Zemlya Frantsa Iosifa. 1933 (transl. from the Russian)
  • The voyage of the icebreaker “Malygin” to Zemlya Frantsa Iosifa in 1931. Trudy (transl. from the Russian)
  • WIESE, W. Die Vorhersage der Eisverhältnisse im Barentsmeer. Arktis I. 1928 (German).
  • Georgiy Yakovlevich Sedov. In: Lupach, V. S. (ed.). Russkiye More Plavateli (Russian) 1953

See also


  • William Barr, The First Tourist Cruise in the Soviet Arctic.
  • Professor B. Volovik, Recent contributions to Arctic meteorology.