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History of Antarctica

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Stacy Dohm
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« on: October 07, 2010, 01:27:33 pm »

History of Antarctica

The history of Antarctica emerges from early Western theories of a vast continent, known as Terra Australis, believed to exist in the far south of the globe. The term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle, was coined by Marinus of Tyre in the second century AD.

The rounding of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn in the 15th and 16th centuries proved that Terra Australis Incognita ("Unknown Southern Land"), if it existed, was a continent in its own right. In 1773 James Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time but although he discovered nearby islands, he did not catch sight of Antarctica itself.

In 1820, several expeditions claimed to have been the first to have sighted Antarctica, with the very first being the Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. The first landing was probably just over a year later when American Captain John Davis, a sealer, set foot on the ice.

The first Norwegian expedition to Antarctica was led by Captain Carl Anton Larsen aboard the barque Jason in 1892. During the expedition he was the first to discover fossils in Antarctica, for which he received the Back Grant from the Royal Geographical Society.[1] In December 1893 he also became the first person to ski in Antarctica where the Larsen Ice Shelf was named after him. Larsen is also considered the founder of the Antarctic whaling industry and the settlement at Grytviken, South Georgia.[2]

Once the North Pole had been reached in 1909, several expeditions attempted to reach the South Pole. Many resulted in injury and death. The Norwegian Roald Amundsen finally reached the Pole in December 1911, following a dramatic race with the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott.

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Stacy Dohm
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2010, 01:28:21 pm »


"Taking an observation at the pole". In: "The South Pole", by Roald Amundsen, 1872-1928. P. 112, Volume II, Library Call Number M82.1/99 A529s.

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Stacy Dohm
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010, 01:29:04 pm »

The search for Terra Australis Incognita

In the Western world, belief in a Cold Land—a vast continent located in the far south of the globe to "balance" out the northern lands of Europe, Asia and North Africa—had existed for centuries. Aristotle had postulated a symmetry of the earth, which meant that there would be equally habitable lands south of the known world. The Greeks suggested that these two hemispheres, north and south, were divided by a 'belt of fire'[citation needed].

It was not until Prince Henry the Navigator began in 1418 to encourage the penetration of the torrid zone in the effort to reach India by circumnavigating Africa that the exploration of the southern hemisphere began. In 1473 Portuguese navigator Lopes Gonçalves proved that the equator could be crossed, and cartographers and sailors began to assume the existence of another, temperate continent to the south of the known world.

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Stacy Dohm
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2010, 01:29:19 pm »

The doubling of the Cape of Good Hope in 1487 by Bartolomeu Dias first brought explorers within touch of the Antarctic cold, and proved that there was an ocean separating Africa from any Antarctic land that might exist. In 1513, the Ottoman Turkish admiral Piri Reis drew a world map that has been said to show part of the Antarctic continent.

Ferdinand Magellan, who passed through the Straits of Magellan in 1520, assumed that the islands of Tierra del Fuego to the south were an extension of this unknown southern land, and it appeared as such on a map by Ortelius: Terra australis recenter inventa sed nondum plene cognita ("Southern land recently discovered but not yet known").[citation needed]

European geographers connected the coast of Tierra del Fuego with the coast of New Guinea on their globes and allowing their imaginations to run riot in the vast unknown spaces of the south Atlantic, south Indian and Pacific oceans. They sketched the outlines of the Terra Australis Incognita ("Unknown Southern Land"), a vast continent stretching in parts into the tropics. The search for this great south land or Third World was a leading motive of explorers in the 16th and the early part of the 17th centuries.

Quirós in 1606 took possession for the king of Spain all of the lands he had discovered in Australia del Espiritu Santo (the New Hebrides) and those he would discover "even to the Pole".

Francis Drake like Spanish explorers before him had speculated that there might be an open channel south of Tierra del Fuego. Indeed, when Schouten and Le Maire discovered the southern extremity of Tierra del Fuego and named it Cape Horn in 1615, they proved that the Tierra del Fuego archipelago was of small extent and not connected to the southern land.

Finally, in 1642 Tasman showed that even New Holland (Australia) was separated by sea from any continuous southern continent.

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Stacy Dohm
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2010, 01:29:35 pm »

Voyagers round the Horn frequently met with contrary winds and were driven southward into snowy skies and ice-encumbered seas; but so far as can be ascertained none of them before 1770 reached the Antarctic Circle, or knew it, if they did. The story of the discovery of land in 64° S. by Dirk Gerritz on board the Blijde Boodschap in 1599 was shown to be the result of a mistake[citation needed] of a commentator, Kasper Barlaeus, in 1622. A similar story of sighting "snow-covered mountains" beyond the 64° S in 1603 is told of the Spaniard Gabriel de Castilla[3].

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Stacy Dohm
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2010, 01:30:10 pm »



In 1570 a map by Ortelius showed the imagined link between the proposed continent of Antarctica and South America. Note also the proposed landmasses surrounding the North Pole.
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Stacy Dohm
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2010, 01:31:16 pm »



 Geography world map.jpeg
Map of the world, from Plate LXXVII
 
Date 1771
 
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