Magazine article Geographical

Out in the Cold Documenting Polar Exploration: To Thoroughly Record the Early Expeditions into the Remote and Inhospitable Polar Regions, Specimens and Measurements Would Be Taken, Charts Drawn, Paintings Daubed and Photographs Captured. Here, a Selection of Artefacts and Images from Both Arctic and Antarctic Voyages Capture the Highs and Lows of Life at the Poles

Magazine article Geographical

Out in the Cold Documenting Polar Exploration: To Thoroughly Record the Early Expeditions into the Remote and Inhospitable Polar Regions, Specimens and Measurements Would Be Taken, Charts Drawn, Paintings Daubed and Photographs Captured. Here, a Selection of Artefacts and Images from Both Arctic and Antarctic Voyages Capture the Highs and Lows of Life at the Poles

Article excerpt

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The top of the world: INSIDE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE ABOVE: HMS Alert's wardroom (naval officers' quarters) in winter. This painting, entitled 'Winter Quarters inside HMS Alert--the wardroom', was painted by Dr Edward Lawton Moss during the British Arctic Expedition of 1875-76. Led by Sir George Strong Nares, the expedition attempted to reach the North Pole via Smith Sound, exploring Greenland and nearby land masses, on

board two naval ships. HMS Alert and HMS Discovery, with a combined crew of 120 men, set sail from Portsmouth on 29 May 1875 amid great pomp and ceremony. The expedition was seen as a triumphant return of Britain to exploration after the disastrous 1845 Northwest Passage expedition led by Sir John Franklin, which resulted in the death of more than 130 men after the ships Erebus and Terror became icebound. 'No one on board our two ships can ever forget the farewell given to the discovery vessels on that occasion,' wrote Nares of the departure. By late August 1875, the Discovery had reached Grant Land, north of the Kennedy Channel, which was deemed by Captain Henry Stephenson a suitable and safe place to pass the winter. The Alert, captained by Nares, continued north; by September, it had gone farther than any other ship, reaching 82[degrees] 27'N. As the ice closed in around the Alert, Nares concluded that they had reached the edge of a frozen polar ocean that would prevent them, and indeed any ship, from making further progress. Nares directed the ship into a bay for winter and ordered a series of sledging expeditions to explore the surroundings and lay depots ready for further sledging trips north during the summer. To stave off boredom, Nares kept his men well occupied: an ice rink was made, a newspaper was produced, firework displays, boxing matches and evening classes were organised, and the 'Royal Arctic Theatre' helped to keep everyone entertained. Although the expedition didn't achieve its primary objective of reaching the North Pole, and its crew suffered badly from scurvy, it went farther north than any other previous voyage in the region and disproved the open-polar-sea hypothesis;

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BELOW: Sir John Ross (1777-1856) with Eskimos in the Arctic, painted in 1835. Ross, a Scottish rear admiral and Arctic explorer, joined the Royal Navy at just nine years old. Thirty-two years later, he led his own expedition to the Arctic in an attempt to learn more about the Northwest Passage--the fabled short cut from Europe to Asia across the top of Canada and Alaska. Although he didn't make any startling discoveries, he returned to the area in 1829. This time, his ship became trapped in ice for four years, but, with help from the local Inuit, the crew explored the surrounding area and discovered the exact location of the magnetic North Pole. Ross returned home a hero and was given a knighthood in 1834

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TOP: map of the Arctic lands by Gerardus Mercator, 1595. This is one of a series of maps published as a three-volume atlas by the Flemish cartographer, considered by many to be the father of modern map-making. Other cartographers had previously published map collections, but this was the first one dedicated to Atlas (not the Greek god but King Atlas, the mythical ruler of Mauretania, who was supposedly a wise astronomer and mathematician). Mercator also discovered a way of projecting the globe onto a flat sea chart. This revolutionised navigation as it enabled sailors to plot their course using a straight line; ABOVE: oil stove used by Robert Peary on his 1909 Arctic expedition. Peary, a US explorer, claimed to have been the first man to reach the North Pole (on 6 April 1909). His claim was widely disputed but, in 200S, a British explorer retraced Peary's path on wooden skis. He reached the Pole five hours faster than Peary, proving the American's timings may not have been fabricated; BELOW: Inuit shoes brought back from the Arctic by William Parry in 1823. …

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