1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica

1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica

Chris Turney

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 1582437890

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“The South Pole discovered” trumpeted the front page of The Daily Chronicle on March 8, 1912, marking Roald Amundsen’s triumph over the tragic Robert Scott. Yet behind all the headlines there was a much bigger story. Antarctica was awash with expeditions. In 1912, five separate teams representing the old and new world were diligently embarking on scientific exploration beyond the edge of the known planet. Their discoveries not only enthralled the world, but changed our understanding of the planet forever. Tales of endurance, self-sacrifice, and technological innovation laid the foundations for modern scientific exploration, and inspired future generations.

To celebrate the centenary of this groundbreaking work, 1912: The Year the World Discovered Antarctica revisits the exploits of these different expeditions. Looking beyond the personalities and drawing on his own polar experience, Chris Turney shows how their discoveries marked the dawn of a new age in our understanding of the natural world. He makes use of original and exclusive unpublished archival material and weaves in the latest scientific findings to show how we might reawaken the public’s passion for discovery and exploration

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1912 Professor Chris Turney is an Australian and British Earth scientist, and an ARC Laureate Fellow in climate change at the University of New South Wales. He is the author of Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past and Bones, Rocks and Stars: The Science of When Things Happened, as well as numerous scientific papers and magazine articles. In 2007 he was awarded the Sir Nicholas Shackleton Medal for outstanding young Quaternary scientists, and in 2009 he received the Geological

to New Zealand with news of what had happened so far. During a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society in April 1911 the president remarked: One must remember that it is only in civilized lands where the traveller can reasonably expect to escape all misfortunes; whilst, as for true exploration, its course never does run quite smoothly. These misfortunes are to be regretted, but they do not in the slightest degree dim our confident expectations that Captain Scott will produce splendid

in the north, and ensure everyone could testify to the readings made. Their final latitude was recorded as 89°59’S. Those present countersigned the entry for the day, testifying to the measurements and agreeing they had claimed the South Geographic Pole. Contrary to the Norwegian explorer’s diary entry, the men reached the pole on 14 December 1911. Just as Phileas Fogg gained a day during his journey around the world, so Amundsen had crossed the dateline sailing to Antarctica and thus was a day

trust—König and Kling—made off with enough provisions for three weeks of unsupported sledging. With just two to three hours of daylight a day, the three men slowly worked their way over the sea ice and around open patches of water, much of the time by moonlight, with temperatures regularly approaching -35°C. Kling later wrote, ‘We proceeded at a rapid pace through the ghostly shadows thrown by piled-up floes and snow hillocks. We glided along noiselessly, as if we were heading for Valhalla.

key elements of the Atlantic Ocean circulation system had been found. Here was the first substantial evidence that the world’s oceans were circulating, replenishing nutrient levels in the south, and the Antarctic was in the thick of it. But it would be a decade before the German oceanographer Wilhelm Meinardus would pull everything together and show how important these observations were in understanding the bigger picture. The new continent was not as isolated as had been thought. Unfortunately

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