Hypothesis Versus Fact: August Petermann and Polar Research

  • E. Tammiksaar
  • N.G. Sukhova
  • I.R. Stone
Keywords: August Petermann, history, exploration, Arctic Ocean, open polar sea, Gulf Stream, extension of Greenland, Ostrov Vrangelya (Wrangel Island)


The history of polar exploration has witnessed several conceptions of the climate, presence of lands, conditions of ice, and currents in the Arctic Ocean that were hypothetical or based on scarce research data. One such conception was the view of the physical geography of polar areas put forward in 1865 by the German geographer and publicist August Petermann, which was based mainly on the findings of English and Russian polar explorers. Although the actual course of polar research disproved Petermann's hypotheses, his conception not only exerted considerable influence on the development of the theoretical knowledge of polar areas, but also promoted practical steps in Arctic exploration during the second half of the 19th century.