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First International Polar Year (1882-83): Encyclopedia Arctica 7: Meteorology and Oceanography
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

First International Polar Year (1882-83)

EA-Meteorology
[William H. Hobbs]

FIRST INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR (1882-1883)

Most of the early polar expeditious in the Arctic were motivated by the
keen desire to discover a northern sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific,
in order especially to establish connection with the Moluccan, or Spice, Islands
of the Orient. The products of these islands had in 1494 been cut off from
northern Europe by the Pope’s treaty of Tordesillas, which had divided the con–
trol of the sea lanes between the then powerf u l maritime nations of Spain and
Portugal. A “Northeast Passage” north of Eurasia, and a “Northwest Passage” to
the northward of the Americas were thereupon diligently sought for throughout
three centuries; in this search Britain was especially active.
During the nineteenth century many arctic expeditions were sent out either
in an effort to find the survivors or the relics of the ill-fated Franklin ex–
pedition of 1845-48, or in a tense contest of the exploring nations to attain
the North Pole of the earth.
In the 1870’s, though the fateful tragedy of the Franklin expedition had
not been fully [: ] disclosed, nor the Pole attained, a new incentive to polar
exploration began to make its appearance — scientific research to learn the
physical nature of the polar regions — their geography, climate, fauna, flora,
magnetical and electrical properties, etc, Arctic stations manned simultaneously
by scientists were to take the place of polar journeys; and these observing posts
were to be fixed in strategical positions, sponsored by different nations and
each maintained for at least a year.

EA-Met.
Hobbs: First International Polar Year

The idea of such a group of polar research stations seems to have originated
in 1874 with Lieutenant Karl Weyprecht of the Austrian Navy, who had commanded
the Tegetthoff expedition and had discovered the Franz Josef archipelago. At
the 48th meeting in Graz, Austria, in 1875, of the German Natural Scientists
and Physicians, he first publicly advocated an international effort to realize
such research. Physics, botany, zoology, as well as geographical discovery, were
to be given prominence. If possible, antarctic as well as arctic stations were to
be set up, and, so far as possible, similar observing instruments and methods were
to be employed in the physical observations — metoeorlogical, astronomical, and
earth magnetical.
Weyprecht’s recommendations were endorsed at the Second Meteorological Congress
held in Rome in 1879, and an international committee had a special conference on
October 1st of that year in Hamburg. Representatives of Austria, Denmark, Finland,
Holland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States took part in this conference,
which named the distinguished Professor George Balthasar Neumayer of Hamburg its
president. A second conference of the committee was held in Berne, Switzerland,
in 1880, and a third in St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) in 1881, at which meeting
the Russian astronomer Wild presided. It was then and there decided to set up
the First International Polar Year from August 1, 1882, to August 1, 1883. There
were to be thirteen arctic and two antarctic stations. With the exception of the
Dutch station in Siberia, these were all duly established, and maintained for at
least a year, some for two or more years.
These stations were as follows: Austria-Hungary , one station at Jan Mayen
directed by E. v. Wohlgemuth; Denmark , two stations, one set up at Godthaab in
West Greenland led by A. Paulsen, the other at Cape Chelyuskin in Northern Siberia

EA-Met. Hobbs: First International Polar Year

led by A. P. Hovgaard; Finland, one station at Sodankylä led by E. Biese; France ,
one station at Orange Bay near Cape Horn, led by Courcelle-Seneuil; Germany , two
stations, the first in Kinguafjord, Baffin Island, led by W, Giese, and the second
at Royal Bay on South Georgia, Subantarctie, led by K. Schrader; Holland , one
station on Dickson Island at the mouth of the Yenisei, Siberia, led, by M. Snellen;
Norwa y, one station at Bossekop In Norway, led by A. S. Steen; Russia two
stations, one at Malye Karmakuly on the vest coast of Novaya Zemlya, led by K.
Andrejew, the other at Sagastyr at the mouth of the Lena, led by N. D. Jürgens;
Sweden , one station at Cape Thordsen in the Icefjord on Spitsbergen (now Svalbard);
and the United States , two stations, one at Cape Smythe, near Point Barrow, Alaska,
led by P. H. Ray, the other at Fort Conger on Lady Franklin Bay, Ellesmere Island,
led by A, W. Greely.
Both American stations, and the Russian station at Sagastyr, were maintained
for two successive years. In addition to meteorological and earth magnetism
observations, most stations carried out studies of the aurora and of electrical
earth currents. Some of them made regular observations of the tides and of ocean
temperatures, Many of them also made ethnographical, zoological, botanical,
and geological observations of greater or less importance.

EA-Met. Hobbs: First International Polar Year

Bibliography

Andrejew and Lenz. Beobachtungen der russischen Polarstation auf Novaya Semlya ,
1882-83. 2 vols. St. Petersburg, 1886, 1891.

Baur, F. “Das Klima der bisher erforschten Teile der Arktis.” Arktis . Vol. 2,
Nos. 3, 4. 1929, Gotha, Justus Perthes.

Breitfuss, L. “Das international Polarjahr Einst und Jetzt.” Arktis . Vol. 3,
No.1/2, 1930, Gotha, Justus Perthes.

Ekholm, N. et al. Observations faites au Cap Thordsen. Spitzberg, par l’Expedition
Suedoise, 2 vols., Stockholm, 1887-1891.

Greely, A. W. Report of the Proceedings of the U.S. Expedition to Lady Franklin Bay,
Grinnell Land, 2 vols., Washington, 1888.

Heidke, P. “Das zweite internationals Polarjahr.” Annalen der Hydrographie und
maritimen Meteorologie, Hamburg. 1932, No. 3, pp.81-93.

Hyades, Lephay, Caunelier, et al. Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn. 1882-83.
5 vols. Paris, 1885-90.

Lemström, S. and Biese, E. Expedition Polaire Finlandaise , 3 vols., Helsingfors,
1886,1887,1898.

Lenz and Eigner. Beobachtungen der russischen Polarstation an der Lenamündung
1882-1884 , 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1885, 1895.

Murdoch, J. Ethnological results of the Point Barrow Expedition (9th Ann. Rept.
Bur. Ethnol.), Washington, 1892.

Neumayer and Borgen. Die Beobachtungsergebnisse der Deutschen Stationen im
Kinguafjord und in Südgeorgien , 2 vols., Berlin, 1886.

Neumayer, G. Die deutschen Expeditionen und ihre Ergebnisse , 2 vols., Hamburg,
1890, Berlin, 1891.

Neumayer and Borgen. Die Beobachtungsergebnisse der Duetschen Stationen im
Kinguafjord und in Südgeorgien , 2 vols., Berlin, 1886.

Paulsen, A. Expedition Danoise, Observations faites a Godthaab , 2 vols., Copen–
hagen, 1889, 1894.

----. Observations of the International Polar Expedition 1882-83 , Fort Rae, London,
1886.

Ray, P. H. Report of the International Polar Expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska,
Washington, [: ] 1885.

Snellen and Ekama. Report sur l’Expedition Polaire Neerlandaise dans la mer
de Kara 1882 a 1883, Utrecht, 1910.

Snellen and Volck. De Nederlandsche Pool-Expeditie 1882-83 , Utrecht, 1886.

Steen, A.S. Beobachtungsergebnisse der norwegischen Polarstation Bossekop im
Altenfjord, 2 vols., Christiania 1887. 1888.

Wohlgemuth, E. v. Die österreichische Polarstation Jan Mayen , 3 vols. Vienna,
1886.

William H. Hobbs
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