What happened to the climate the mission of the famous expeditionary ship Meteor

(ORDO NEWS) — In 2021, the United Nations climate conference was held in Glasgow. The level of the event, which brought together more than 120 heads of state and government, confirms the importance of the climate problem for every inhabitant of the Earth.

Discussions about climate are becoming more and more heated, and it seems that it is no longer possible to understand the topic.

How great is our influence on the planet’s climate, in fact, what place does it occupy among other factors? How and why has the climate changed in the past and what can we expect in the future?

Ramiz Aliyev, a scientist and writer, in his book “What happened to the climate”, managed to popularize the complex concepts and theories of climate change that stand at the intersection of sciences. We suggest you familiarize yourself with the most interesting passage.

Atlantic Gold

On April 16, 1925, the German expedition ship Meteor left the port of Wilhelmshaven. The expedition began to prepare as early as 1919, in very difficult conditions.

Germany had just been defeated in the World War and, under the Treaty of Versailles, had to pay reparations to the victorious countries. Most of the surviving ships of the German fleet were also selected.

Therefore, the scientific expedition also had political significance – it was the only way to demonstrate the presence of the German fleet in the oceans (Emery, 1980). One of the initiators of the expedition was the Nobel laureate, German chemist Fritz Haber, led by the German oceanographer Alfred Merz.

The fate of Fritz Haber could be the subject of a serious study on the relationship between the scientist and the government and responsibility for the results of his discoveries. During the First World War, he was engaged in the development of chemical weapons.

Haber is credited with the phrase: “In peacetime, a scientist belongs to the world, and in time of war, to his country”(Hardy, 2017). He personally participated in the organization of the chemical attack at Ypres (1915). It cost him dearly.

His wife, also a chemist, could not stand the moral suffering and committed suicide. In 1919 Haber received the Nobel Prize for the synthesis of ammonia from hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen.

The process he discovered put an end to the dependence of economies on stocks of Chilean saltpeter, the main raw material for producing explosives and nitrogen fertilizers. Perhaps it was the status of a Nobel laureate that saved Haber from the dock – after the war he was wanted as a war criminal.

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In 1900, Svante Arrhenius, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, determined that 1 ton of sea water contains 6 mg of gold. If you can get saltpeter from the air, then why not extract gold from the ocean?

And Haber began to look for a way to extract gold from sea water in order to overcome the severe economic crisis. The expedition on the Meteor was supposed to take water samples from various depths.

However, Haber’s own estimates, made in the late 1920s, showed that the amount of gold in water is about 1000 times less than Arrhenius determined – about 4 μg / t. More recent studies have shown that Haber also overestimated the content by about 400 times (Kenison Falkner, Edmond, 1990).

Of course, it was not possible to extract gold from sea water, and the payment of reparations by Germany was delayed until 2010. But, despite the failure to extract gold, the Meteor expedition became one of the most famous oceanographic studies in history.

The Meteor was the world’s first scientific ship equipped with sonar. For centuries, the depth of the sea was recognized with the help of a lot – a marked rope with a load at the end. One can imagine how much work a single measurement in the deep part of the ocean cost.

Yes, the sailors did not have such a need – what’s the difference, one kilometer of water under the keel or four? The depth of the ocean became interesting only in the 1850s and 1860s in connection with the laying of a transatlantic telegraph cable.

Then the Telegraph Plateau appeared on the maps of the Atlantic, but subsequently its existence was not confirmed. About 500 more depth measurements were obtained in the first scientific oceanographic expedition – the round-the-world voyage of the Challenger corvette of the Royal Navy (1872-1876).

The Titanic disaster in 1912 made engineers and scientists think about how to determine the distance to obstacles in the water. In the same year, the first German patent was issued for a device for determining depth using sound.

The war accelerated the development of maritime navigation systems, and by the mid-1920s, sonars were available in France, Britain, and the United States (Hardy, 2017).

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In two years of sailing (1925-1927), the Meteor crossed the Atlantic 14 times. The expedition had to be completed without a leader – Merz died in the summer of 1925 in Buenos Aires, and the captain of the Meteor, Fritz Spitz, took command.

The expedition studied in detail the topography of the bottom of the South Atlantic, its most important result was the discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

After World War II, Meteor was taken to the USSR, where he continued to work under the name Equator. In the 1960s, the famous ship was scrapped.

In the interwar period, Fritz Haber continued his experiments, the result of which was Zyklon B. This substance was used by the Nazis for mass murder in the death camps.

Haber’s relatives also died in concentration camps. He himself did not live to see this – when the persecution of the Jews began, he left Germany and died in 1934 in Switzerland on his way to Palestine.


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