The oceanographic contribution of James Croll

Alastair Dawson (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    1 Citation (Scopus)
    48 Downloads (Pure)


    The research of James Croll on the nature of Ice Ages led him into a detailed investigation of ocean currents. By the early 1870s he had calculated from first principles the quantities of heat delivered by ocean currents to high latitude areas and he understood how this heat supply may have altered drastically during ice ages. The publication of his many papers on ocean currents as well as his book, Climate and Time, coincided with Challenger expedition that, in 1872, embarked on a 4-year voyage of scientific exploration of the world's oceans. The expedition was crucially important for Croll since it enabled him to test his theories of ocean circulation using real data. His novel theories of ocean circulation based on this information conflicted with the established views popularly advocated by William Carpenter but they ultimately prevailed. In the many writings of Croll on ocean currents, we encounter, as with other areas of his research, numerous remarkable ideas many decades ahead their time.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)253-260
    Number of pages7
    JournalEarth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
    Issue numberSpecial Issue 3-4
    Early online date30 Jun 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


    • Carpenter
    • Challenger expedition
    • gravitation
    • ocean currents
    • ocean temperature
    • salinity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science(all)
    • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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