Albrecht Penck

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Albrecht Penck
Albrecht Penck.jpg
Born 25 September 1858 (1858-09-25)
Reudnitz, Saxony
Died March 7, 1945(1945-03-07) (aged 86)
Residence Austria-Hungary
Fields Geomorphology, Quaternary science, Climatology
Institutions University of Vienna
Harvard University
Humboldt University
Alma mater University of Leipzig
University of Vienna
Doctoral advisor Eduard Suess
Doctoral students Jovan Cvijić[1]
Influences Eduard Suess[2]
Walther Penck[3]
Influenced Julius Büdel[4]
Jovan Cvijić[1]
Walther Penck[5]
Notable awards Charles P. Daly Medal (1914)
Vega Medal (1923)

Albrecht Penck (September 25, 1858 – March 7, 1945), was a German geographer and geologist and the father of Walther Penck.


Born in Reudnitz near Leipzig, Penck became a university professor in Vienna from 1885 to 1906, and in Berlin from 1906 to 1927. There he was also the director of the "Institute and Museum for Oceanography" by 1918. He dedicated himself to geomorphology and climatology and raised the international profile of the "Vienna School of physical geography".

With Eduard Bruckner, he was co-author of Die Alpen im Eiszeitalter, a work in which the two scientists identified the four ice ages of the European Pleistocene (Gunz, Mindel, Riss, Würm); these being named after the river valleys that were the first indication of each glaciation.[6]

Since 1886, he was married to the sister of the successful Bavarian regional writer Ludwig Ganghofer. In 1945, Penck died in Prague. In memory of Penck, the painter and sculptor Ralf Winkler adopted the nom de plume A. R. Penck in 1966.

Albrecht Penck was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1905 and awarded the Founder's Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1914.[7]


The glacier of Penckbreen in Wedel Jarlsberg Land at Spitsbergen, Svalbard is named after him.[8] Since 1958 the "Albrecht-Penck-Medaille" is awarded by the Deutsche Quartärvereinigung for accomplishments associated with Quaternary science.[9][not in citation given]


Further reading[edit]

  • Schultz, H.-D.: "Ein wachsendes Volk braucht Raum." Albrecht Penck als politischer Geograph. In: Nitz, B.; Schultz, H.-D.; Schulz, M. (Hrsg.): 1810 – 2010: 200 Jahre Geographie in Berlin (= Berliner Geographische Arbeiten, Vol. 115). Berlin 2010, pp. 91–135 [2. verb. u. erw. Aufl. 2011, pp. 99–153]
  • Henniges, N.: "Sehen lernen": Die Exkursionen des Wiener Geographischen Instituts und die Formierung der Praxiskultur der geographischen (Feld-) Beobachtung in der Ära Albrecht Penck (1885-1906). In: Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft, Vol. 156, Wien 2014, pp. 141–170.
  • Henniges, N.: "Naturgesetze der Kultur“: Die Wiener Geographen und die Ursprünge der „Volks- und Kulturbodentheorie“. In: ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, Vol. 14, H. 4, 2015, pp. 1309–1351. [''ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies''].


  1. ^ a b Ford, Derek (2007). "Jovan Cvijić and the founding of karst geomorphology". Environmental Geology. 51: 675–684. doi:10.1007/s00254-006-0379-x. 
  2. ^ Chorley et al. 1963
  3. ^ Chorley et al. 2005, p. 589
  4. ^ Migoń, Piotr (2006). "Büdel, J. 1982: Climatic geomorphology. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Translation of Klima-geomorphologie, Berlin-Stuttgart: Gebrüder Borntraeger, 1977.)". Progress in Physical Geography. 30 (1): 99–103. 
  5. ^ Chorley et al. 2005, p. 614
  6. ^ A to Z of Marine Scientists by Barbara Charton
  7. ^ "List of Past Gold Medal Winners" (PDF). Royal Geographical Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Penckbreen (Svalbard)". Norwegian Polar Institute. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Penck, Friedrich Karl Albrecht Deutsche Biographie
  10. ^ Google Books Atlas der Österreichischen Alpenseen
  11. ^ Great maps. [S.l.]: Dk Publishing. 2014. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-4654-2463-1. 


  • Chorley, Richard J. (1963), "Diastrophic Background to Twentieth-Century Geomorphological Thought", Geological Society of America Bulletin, 74 (8): 953–970, doi:10.1130/0016-7606(1963)74[953:dbttgt];2 
  • Chorley, Richard J.; Beckinsale, Robert P.; Dunn, Antony J. (2005) [1973]. "Chapter Twenty-Two". The History of the Study of Landforms. Volume Two. Taylor & Francis e-Library.