S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Hann, Prof Julius Ferdinand von (meteorology)

Born: 23 March 1839, near Linz, Austria.
Died: 1 October 1921, Vienna, Austria.

Julius Ferdinand von Hann, Austrian meteorologist, seems never to have visited South Africa and published all his work overseas. However, many of his papers dealt with southern Africa.

He studied mathematics and physics at the University of Vienna from 1860. In 1867 he became an assisstant at the Zentral anstalt für Meteorologie (Central Institute for Meteorology) in Vienna and ten years later was promoted to director of this institute, a post he held until 1897. Meanwhile he had qualified to teach at the University of Vienna in 1868. From 1872 he lectured in climatology at the new Hochschule für Bodenkultur, but in 1874 became associate professor of physical geography at the University of Vienna and three years later professor of geophysics there. Except for a period of three years at the University of Graz he held his post at Vienna until his retirement in 1910. From 1865 he served on the editorial staff of the Zeitschrift der Österreichische Gesellschaft für Meteorologie and later as editor of its successor, the Meteorologische Zeitschrift, until 1910. Under his editorship this journal, published in Vienna, became the leading meteorological journal in the world at that time and he contributed many articles to its pages.

Von Hann made important contributions to the introduction of thermodynamic principles into meteorology and laid the methodological groundwork of climatology. His research covered all aspects of meteorology and included a new theory of berg winds. One of his major works was Handbuch der Klimatologie (Stuttgart, 1883, 764p), the first comprehensive treatment in its field. Later editions of this book (1908, 1911) included descriptions of climatic conditions in the various regions of southern Africa. An English translation, Handbook of climatology was published in 1903. He also wrote Algemeine erdkunde (with others, 1872), Atlas der Meteorologie (1887), and Lehrbuch der meteorologie (1901), and more than 300 scientific papers. He was a member of numerous scientific societies and was regarded as the leading meteorologist of his time.

Most of von Hann's papers dealing with southern Africa contained summaries of meteorological observations (temperature, pressure, humidity, rainfall) for one or more years, and were published (in German) in the Meteorologische Zeitschrift. They included contributions on the climate of Port Nolloth (1893; 1898); Walfish Bay (1888; 1896); Swakopmund (1902); Kimberley (1903); Lydenburg (1907; observations by F. Wilms*); Luanda (1896; 1910, rainfall for 1879-1907); Lourenco Marques (now Maputo, 1909); and Salisbury (now Harare, 1910). In some of his other papers he analysed the diurnal variations in one or more of the meteorological elemenst: Atmospheric pressure at Luanda (1896); wind and pressure in Johannesburg (1915); and temperature, humidity, sunshine, etc. in Johannesburg (1915). Two further papers, on daily temperature and pressure variations at Windhoek respectively, were published in the Mitteilungen von Forschungsreisenden und Gelehrten aus den deutschen Schutzgebieten (1906). One of his early papers, "Das land der Ovaherero" described a region in present Namibia and was published in the Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Algemeine Erdkunde zu Berlin in 1868.

List of sources:
Debus, A.G. (Ed.) World who's who in science. Chicago: Marquis, 1968.

Logan, R.F. Bibliography of South West Africa: Geography and related fields. Windhoek: SWA Scientific Society, 1969.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Neue Deutsche Biographie. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1953-.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

Venter, R.J. Bibliography of regional meteorological literature. Vol. 1. South Africa, 1486-1948. Pretoria: Weather Bureau, 1949.

Compiled by: C. Plug