5 February, 1998
Hi from the Nathaniel B. Palmer! We've continued with our Multibeam survey today, so it has been pretty quiet around here. Beginning tonight, we are back into deep tow and coring for the next day or so. It was very different outside today. There was very little ice floating in the area that we were mapping. I did see some penguins playing on an iceberg this morning . . . but there were very few icebergs nearby to look at. Although the lack of ice is wonderful for data collection, it sure isn't as fun to look at!
Since we ran out of time in yesterday's journal, I wanted to make sure and discuss Amundsen and Scott. Roald Engebreth Amundsen was from Norway. He was born in 1872. In his early years, he dreamed of being the first man to reach the North Pole. In fact, he was planning to freeze his ship in the ice and drift to the North Pole when he received the news that American Robert E. Peary had claimed to reach 90 degrees N (the North Pole) on April 6, 1909. Amundsen quickly and secretly decided to be the first person to reach the South Pole instead. He loaded a ship and a crew . . . and left Norway on June 6, 1911. In fact, Amundsen didn't even tell most of the crew aboard his ship (called the Fram) where they were heading until they already out to sea!
Amundsen had planned very well for polar weather. He set out for the South Pole on October 19, 1911. He had four other men with him. Between them, there were four sledges to carry their gear and each sledge was pulled by 13 Greenland dogs. The men also were well-trained in the use of skis, and this helped them out a lot. Amundsen also took extra food and supplies that he left in depots along the way. They arrived at the South Pole on December 14, 1911, and camped there for three days before following their same route home. They arrived back where they started, near Roosevelt Island on the Ross Ice Shelf, on Januray 25th, 1912.
Captain Robert Falcon Scott was a British explorer who was born in 1868. He spent time in Antarctica during the years 1902-1904, and he made many discoveries. During this "Discovery" Expedition, Scott also attempted to reach the South Pole. There were three men, along with sledges and dogs, that headed for the South Pole on November 2, 1902. Although a large depot of food was laid out by an advance party, none of the men had tried skiing or sled dog-driving, and the were only able to reach as far south as 82 degrees, 16.5 minutes, before turning back.
When Amundsen told his men exactly where they were and what they were doing, he also sent a telegram to Scott. In this telegram, Amundsen said, "Beg leave to inform you Fram proceeding Antarctic Amundsen." Scott was very upset that Amundsen might beat him to the pole, so he quickly sailed from New Zealand to Antarctica -- arriving at Ross Island in January of 1911, to begin what was called the "Terra Nova" expedition. Scott began his trip to the pole on October 24, 1911. He had men and ponies go ahead and set up depots of food and supplies. On January 4, 1912, the final support party turned back, and Scott marched on towards to South Pole along with 4 other men. All five men arrived at the South Pole on January 17, 1912 -- only to find out that Amundsen had beaten them by 33 days.
The return trip home for Scott and his men was rough. They had a hard time finding their depots, they were hungry, and they were cold. One of the men died February 17, 1912. Another walked into a blizzard to his death about a month later. Scott and his final two men became stuck in a blizzard on March 21st. They were not able to leave their tent because of the weather. Scott kept a diary throughout this entire adventure, and the last entry was dated March 29, 1912. All of the men died -- and they were only about 11 miles from Ross Island where they had started. Even though the men didn't survive, they did accomplish a lot of important things on their expedition. Scott and his men dragged about 35 pounds of geological samples back with them, which were found and later analyzed; and his diary remains an important historic document. In addition, there were several other parties under his direction that made new discoveries in Antarctica. Three men became the first people to collect emperor penguin eggs by traveling for 5 weeks in the dark, Antarctic winter. During this time, temperatures dropped down to eighty degrees below zero Fahrenheit!. Another party of Scott's men, under the direction of Victor Campbell, lived at Cape Adare for almost a year. (Remember the journal from January 30, 1998?)
Due to the fact that Amundsen and Scott were the first two explorers to reach the South Pole, the United States named its research station located at the South Pole "Amundsen-Scott Station." We discussed how Palmer Station got its name in an earlier journal. The largest U.S. station on the continent is named McMurdo Station. It is located on Ross Island and was built at the location of Hut Point (a hut built by Scott's "Discovery" expedition while their boat was frozen in ice). The station gets its name from McMurdo Sound, which explorer James Clark Ross named after Lt. Archibald McMurdo of the ship "Terror" in 1841. McMurdo is the largest scientific base in all of Antarctica.
Well, it's about time to be signing off. Yesterday, we talked about the Captain and the Mates. Before that, we talked about the Galley Crew. What other crew members do you suppose are necessary to run a ship like the Nathaniel B. Palmer? We'll look at that in tomorrow's journal. I continue to enjoy all of your questions -- thanks for writing!
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