geologist, geographer, oceanographer.
Born in Rojdnice near Leipzig.
From 1885 to 1906, Penk was a professor at the
University of Vienna, then, from 1906 to 1927, he was a
professor at the Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Berlin.
In 1886, Penk married Ida Ganghofer (1863–1944), the
sister of Ludwig Ganghofer, a famous Bavarian writer.
Their son Walter Penk became a famous geographer and
After the death of Ferdinand von Richthofen, in the
period 1906-1927, Albrecht Penk was the director of the
Geographic Institute at the University of
Friedrich-Wilhelm, was a full member of the Moscow
Society of Naturalists, a member of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences.
Until 1918, he also directed the Institute and Museum of
Oceanography. Penk devoted himself to the study of
geomorphology and climatology. Since 1928 he taught at
the German University of Karl Ferdinand in Prague.
Penk took the Vienna School of Physical Geography to an
international level. Studying the problems of glaciation
and geomorphology, Penk worked on expeditions in the
mountains of Spain, northern Morocco, Canada, Australia,
China, Japan and in several other areas. He was engaged
in hydrography of the Danube. He is the author of the
pioneering classification of climates. In collaboration
with E. Brickner, he developed the concept of ancient
glaciation. It was they who proposed to subdivide the
ice age into eras: Gunz, Almond, Riss, Wurm. Penck
introduced into geomorphology the concept of a “top
level of denudation”, believing that the main factors
affecting the height of the mountains are: the height of
the snow border and the height of the forest border.
They determine the rate of denudation and, therefore, in
each climate a certain height of the upper level of
denudation. Subsequently, he abandoned these ideas and
introduced the concept of “vertex surface”, reflecting
the fact that the level of the peaks is constant without
explaining this phenomenon.
In memory of Penk, the famous German artist and sculptor
Ralph Winkler took the pseudonym A.R. Penk.
Penk's students were Serbian geographer Jovan Zviich,
Japanese geographer Naomas Yamazaki, French geographer
Emmanuel de Marton, Bulgarian geomorphologist Zeko
Radev, and Austrian geographer Fritz Makhachek.
He died in Prague.
Glacier in the north of the central part of the northern
island of Novaya Zemlya. It was discovered and named in
September 1923 by the expedition of the Institute for
the Study of the North under the leadership of