Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Straight from the Snow

This stream and its series of waterfalls comes straight down from the melting snow in the vast glacial cirque in the background. You would never know that U-shaped valleys were once very controversial. There was a time, not too long ago, when even scientists were skeptical of the fact that these broad U-shaped features originated with glaciers. The first scientific studies connecting these unique landforms to glaciers occurred in the early 1800s. A natural scientist named Jean de Charpentier, and a Scandinavian scientist named Jens Esmark, elaborated theories that certain types of landforms, including these distinctive U-shaped valleys, originated with huge sheets of ice. After overcoming his original disbelief, the theory was much expanded by Louis Agassiz, a famous Swiss Zoologist. Agassiz's theorized that most of the Northern Hemisphere had once been covered with vast sheets of ice. Agassiz's theory was only confirmed when Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian, and five others, finally crossed the Greenland ice field and confirmed Agassiz's predictions. See Aber, James S., Birth of the Glacial Theory, Emporia State University, 2003.

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