IASC 25 years - Page 68

Royal Society of Britain in 1773, “A voyage towards 1872, seven countries sent fifteen expeditions to the North Pole to be of service to the promotion of the Arctic regions. A rich compilation of ‘natural his- natural knowledge,”13 which is justly regarded as the tory’—geographical description, animals and plants, first international truly inter-disciplinary scientific geology, weather phenomena and hydrology—of investigation in the Polar Regions. The plan was the North American and Eurasian Arctic grew from developed from a proposal by French around-the- these separate national activities. At the same time, world explorer de Bougainville, elaborated by the the advancement of world science led to, and was Swiss geographer Engel who, like Lomonosov, pro- promoted by, investigations and speculations that moted the idea that sea ice formed only near land, were truly non-national, concerned with Earth mag- and that therefore the central Arctic Ocean would netism, aurora, the puzzle of the presence of fossils be free of ice. Experienced Dutch, German, and of warm-water creatures and warm-climate plants British scientists and navigators contributed to the at high latitudes, etc.,17 and these issues brought preparations. The detailed observational and exper- Arctic investigations into the realm of international imental program, and the many new instruments science. employed, revealed the most advanced state of European science at the time.14 The two-ship expe- Such questions, both local and planetary in scale, dition probed the edge of the heavy pack ice in the were very much in the minds of a number of Europe- north Atlantic between Greenland and Svalbard, and an scientists concerned with the Polar Regions and obtained the first reliable information on the depth, on the return of the Austro-Hungarian North Polar salinity profile, and currents of the sub-arctic At- Expedition 1872-74 they became focused on the lantic Ocean; the nature and chemistry of pack ice; need for international scientific cooperation, rather magnetic variations and dip; the period of the pen- than separate competitive national explorations. dulum at high latitudes which allowed calculations The outcome, after considerable difficulties, was of the curvature of the Earth; the biology of the the first IPY. polar bear (now known by the scientific name Ursus maritimus Phipps), sea mammals, and of birds on The First International Polar Year the north coast of Svalbard.15 This very fruitful ex- The first IPY (1882-1883) was a major landmark pedition, whose results were disseminated widely in the scientific study of the Polar Regions. Eleven into the scientific community but ignored by geog- countries took part directly, establishing fourteen raphers and much of the public because it was not research stations and another fifteen subsidiary ob- concerned with the discovery of new territories,16 servatories in sub-polar locations. There were also set the pattern for subsequent research in the Polar co-operating observations from thirty-five estab- Regions. Phipps became a Lord of the Admiralty, and lished scientific observatories throughout the globe as a prominent member of the Royal Society pl