Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX
Scotland and the Antarctic

Section 2: Antarctic Exploration ... Nineteenth Century

First International Polar Year 1882-83

In 1882-83 there was international co-operation to find out more about the polar regions. Most of the activities were in the north and the most southerly station was in South Georgia. Simultaneous readings of weather and magnetism were taken. This brought in a tremendous amount of weather statistics for analysis and allowed the first detailed picture of the Earth's magnetic field.

Six further Antarctic expeditions took place in the closing years of the nineteenth century:

  1. Four ships of the Dundee whaling fleet sailed south to the Weddell Sea area with William Speirs Bruce aboard Balaena as surgeon and naturalist in 1892-93 (see section 4).

  2. Norwegian schooner Jason under Captain C A Larsen sailed south and discovered fossils on Seymour Island which showed that at one time Antarctica had a warmer climate. Larsen later became a big name in Antarctic whaling and set up the first shore whaling station Grytviken, South Georgia. The Larsen Ice Shelf bears his name.

  3. The Antarctic under Captain Kristensen went to the Ross Sea area. He discovered lichens growing at 72S. He also found a land area suitable for overwintering on the continent.

  4. Belgica, 1898-99. This was a Norwegian-built ship under the command of Captain Adrien de Gerleche, a Belgian. Included in the crew as mate was Roald Amundsen. Belgica became trapped in ice in the Bellingshausen Sea and became the first ship to overwinter in the Antarctic. She drifted through 17 of longitude.

  5. A German expedition, 1898-99, under Carl Chun on the Valdivia, visited the Antarctic islands.

  6. A British-sponsored expedition in 1898-1900 was led by the Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink with ship Southern Cross. This expedition overwintered at Cape Adare near Ross Island (thus becoming the first expedition to overwinter on the continent). This was also the first expedition to maintain detailed climatic records, and to use dogs to pull sledges. One dog trip reached 7850'S. The expedition had two prefabs and ten men overwintered with 75 dogs. One of the biologists died of scurvy. An extensive biological collection was made.

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Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX