13 February, 1999
February 13, 1999
Hello from Antarctica! Wow, what a day! We’ve finished our first 24 hours at sea, and we all feel like we are starting to get into the swing of things. We have started our first multibeam survey, which lasted most of today and will continue into tomorrow. The multibeam is a type of sonar that is attached to the bottom of the ship. It is used to help map the bottom of the Ross Sea.
Speaking of the Ross Sea, that is one of the geographic locations named after Captain Ross (If you remember, yesterday’s question was "What geographic location was named after Captain Ross?”). Actually, there are at least three different locations named after Scotsman James Clark Ross. Ross was born in 1800 and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 11. Many of his earlier years at sea were spent in the Arctic. Between 1818 and 1836, he spent eight winters and 15 summers in the Arctic. In 1831, he was second-in-command on a voyage with his uncle, John Ross, to locate the North Magnetic Pole. The "magnetic" pole and the "geographic" pole are two different things. The Earth spins around the geographic poles, which are found at 90 degrees North and South latitude. The Earth's magnetic poles, however, are not found exactly at that location. Compasses point to the North Magnetic Pole.
Ross also wanted to discover the location of the South Magnetic Pole, so his set sail in 1839 with two strengthened ships ready to go through ice -- Erebus and Terror. He spent the autumn in Hobart, Tasmania, and continued his trip south in November of 1840. In early January, the ships pushed through pack ice
for four days (his reinforced ships were the first that had been able to withstand such conditions). On January 9, 1841, be broke through to open water and became the first person to reach the Ross Ice Shelf (another geographic location named after him). Today we saw the Ross Ice Shelf and it was really neat! We began to see it from quite a long distance away. As the ship got close to it I felt as though we were standing next to a huge wall of ice. I stood on the metal walkway that surrounds the bridge in order to take my pictures. I was five decks above the water level, and I still couldn’t see the
top of the ice shelf! For tomorrow's question, what exactly is an ice shelf?
Captain Ross then continued south along a great chain of mountains, which is called Victoria Land (he was still trying to find the South Magnetic Pole). The advance came to a halt when Ross found a bay, which he named McMurdo Sound after the first lieutenant on his ship, Archibald McMurdo. He discovered what is now known as Ross Island (where McMurdo Station is located, and a third geographic location named after Sir James Clark Ross), and named its two mountains after his two ships -- Erebus and Terror. Ross continued trying to reach the South Magnetic Pole, but he was eventually forced home in 1843 after nearly four and a half years away. Ross married later that year, but only after he signed an agreement with his bride's father that his days of polar exploration would end. The South Magnetic Pole was first reached by Douglas Mawson, David Edgeworth, and Alistair Mackay in 1909. It is currently located at 65 degrees South Latitude and 139 degrees East Longitude, off the coast near
Commonwealth Bay. Its position moves about 10 to 15 km per year in a north to northwesterly direction.
Well, that’s enough for now. Don’t forget that you are more than welcome to send me any questions that you may have. I’ll be back tomorrow!
Latitude: 77 degrees, 37 minutes South
Longitude: 177 degrees, 59 minutes East
Temperature: -12 degrees C (about 10 degrees F)
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