- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
157

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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DUDINKA TO THE KUREIKA
157
and moss and trees begin. Up to this line the river
rises every spring, and the difference in the water level
may be more than 30 feet.
It is striking how much higher and steeper the east
bank is than the west everywhere along here. As I
have said before, in these regions, where the soil consists
entirely of loose material, it can only be due to the
effect of the earth’s rotation.
I sit and ponder over this as we glide along past the
bank. It was the well-known naturalist, von Båer,
who first pointed out this remarkable feature in the
Russian rivers, and explained it as an effect of the earth’s
rotation ; but, of course, he met with much opposition.
I am reminded especially of a paper I once read by
the German oceanographer Zoppritz, in which by a
mathematical calculation he tried to prove that
the effect of the earth’s rotation on running river
water could only be to make the water slope a little,
so that it would be slightly higher on the right side
than on the left, but otherwise it would have no
effect ; and the excavating power of the river, he
thought, must remain precisely the same on both sides
of its bed.
That was it, as far as I can remember. But here
Zoppritz made the gross blunder of assuming that
river-water at every depth flows with the same rapidity
over the whole width of the river. If that were the case,
his argument would be right. But as it is never the
case in nature, he is wrong, especially where the river
is a wide one. If we suppose for a moment that the
river flows through a lake, it will be obvious that the
stream cannot be equally divided over the whole
width of the lake, but the running water must, on
account of the earth’s rotation, have a strong tendeney
to follow the right-hand shore, especially in high

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