Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Thornthwaite, C(harles) Warren (United States 1899-1963)

Thornthwaite did relatively little work concerning living things per se, but his studies on climate classification and evapotranspiration were among the most important of the twentieth century. His early publications on climate classification were empiricism-based and featured a systems approach dwelling on the synergistic effects of rainfall and evapotranspiration in microclimatologically constraining soil and vegetation development. In his famous 1948 and 1955 publications he provided a theoretical framework for these relations which, despite objections from some quarters, has proved highly influential. He also did important work on the measurement of vertical wind profiles, and the development of related instrumentation.

Life Chronology

--born in Bay City, Michigan, on 7 March 1899.
--1922: A.B., Central Michigan Normal School
--1922-1924: teaches high school in Owosso, Michigan
--1926-1930: works as a geographer for the Kentucky Geological Survey
--1927: hired as assistant professor in geography, University of Oklahoma
--1930: Ph.D., geography, University of California, Berkeley (student of Carl Sauer)
--1931: publishes "The Climates of North America According to a New Classification" in Geographical Review
--1934: leaves University of Oklahoma and works on internal migration patterns within the U. S. at the University of Pennsylvania
--1935: made chief of the climatic and physiographic research division of the Soil Conservation Service; division folds in 1942, but he remains until 1946
--1946: works as a consultant with Seabrook Farms, New Jersey, and establishes the Laboratory of Climatology
--1947-1955: professor of climatology at Johns Hopkins University
--1948: publishes "An Approach Toward a Rational Classification of Climate" in Geographical Review
--1950, 1953: president of the Commission for Climatology, World Meteorological Organization
--1952: establishes C. W. Thornthwaite Associates to mind consulting work
--1953: awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Association of American Geographers
--1954: changes the affiliation of the Laboratory of Climatology to Drexel Institute of Technology (adjunct professor at Drexel 1954-1959)
--1955: publishes his The Water Balance, with John R. Mather
--1958: receives the Cullum medal of the American Geographical Society
--1961: honorary president, Association of American Geographers
--dies on 11 June 1963.

For Additional Information, See:

--Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 54(4) (1964): 615-621.
--Geographical Review, Vol. 53(4) (1963): 595-597.
--The Genius of C. Warren Thornthwaite, Climatologist-Geographer (1996).

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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