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James Croll (1821–1890): ice, ice ages and the Antarctic connection

  • David E. Sugden (a1)
Abstract

The thrust of this paper is that James Croll should be more generously lauded for his remarkable contribution to the study of ice ages, glacier flow and the nature of the Antarctic ice sheet. Croll was the first to calculate the link between fluctuations of the Earth’s orbit and glacial/interglacial cycles, and to identify the crucial role of positive feedback processes necessary to transform minor insolation changes into major climatic changes. He studied the mechanisms of glacier flow and explained flow over horizontal land surfaces at a continental scale, including the excavation of rock basins. Croll relied on a quantitatively based deductive approach. One of his most remarkable achievements was his study of the thickness, thermal regime and dynamics of the Antarctic ice sheet (1879). This contains important insights, which are relevant today, and yet the paper was published before anyone had landed on the continent!

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
david.sugden@ed.ac.uk
References
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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
  • URL: /core/journals/antarctic-science
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