François-Alphonse Forel

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François-Alphonse Forel (February 2, 1841 – August 7, 1912) was a Swiss scientist who pioneered the study of lakes, and is thus considered the founder of limnology.

Born in Morges on Lake Geneva, he worked as a professor of medicine at the University of Lausanne.

But his real love was the lake; his investigations of biology, chemistry, water circulation, and sedimentation, and most importantly their interactions, established the foundation of a new discipline. In his chief work, Le Léman, published in three volumes between 1892 and 1904, he named his activity limnology in analogy with oceanography ("limnography" could have been confused with the limnograph, which measures water level in lakes).

He discovered the phenomenon of density currents in lakes, and explained seiches, the rhythmic oscillations observed in enclosed waters.

In collaboration with Wilhelm Ule, developed the Forel-Ule scale, used to evaluate the colour of a body of water. In a totally different field, in cooperation with the Italian seismologist Michele Stefano de Rossi, he developed the Rossi–Forel scale to describe the intensity of an earthquake.

The Institute F.-A. Forel of the University of Geneva is named after Forel.

Foreltinden, a mountain at Spitsbergen, Svalbard, is named after him.[1][2]

Forel_(station) in Maule, Chile is named after him after he lived close to the station.


  1. ^ "Foreltinden (Svalbard)". Norwegian Polar Institute. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  2. ^ Lauritzen, Per Roger, ed. (2009). "Foreltinden". Norsk Fjelleksikon (in Norwegian). Arendal: Friluftsforlaget. ISBN 978-82-91-49547-7.

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