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Ingrid Kretschmer:

Carl Sonklar's 'atlas' of the Ötztal Mountains – an early glacier atlas of the Eastern Alps

Cartographica Helvetica 25 (2002) 11–20


Ever since the appearance of regional maps in the 16th century, glaciers were well-known topographic and cartographic objects. In addition to vague travel experiences and Alpine traverses in the 18th century, the natural phenomenon 'water resource' had been recognized and the first scientific studies had appeared. Botanical collections and classifications furnished the first kind of uniform introduction to glaciers, and thermometers and barometers provided rudimentary data for meteorology, later also used for height determination in the mid-18th century. Natural scientists and army topographers belonged to the first groups of people who penetrated the Alpine summits and glaciers.

After having mastered astronomic positioning and triangulation, new trigonometric surveys and the first accurate specialized maps emerged in the Eastern Alps. At the same time the natural sciences branched out into new fields bringing forth scientific surveying and mapping data. After 1830 glaciology experienced its full development and the first scientific investigations of the Eastern Alps were carried out. One of the first successful glaciologists was Carl Sonklar from Austria, who produced the first colored glacier atlas of a region in the Eastern Alps and a new type of general map of glacial areas in his atlas of the Ötztal Alps. The large-scale glacier maps served for cartometric comparisons and the quantitative description of glaciers.

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