IASC 25 years - Page 67

tion. It may be noted that later maps from, eg. Peter- were divided by a sea strait, which they named mann (1865) and Nansen (1897) still showed the Bering Strait. A second expedition, which became possibility of land in the central Arctic Ocean. known as the Great Northern Expedition (1733- 4 5 1743), was sponsored by Peter the Great’s sucThe first comprehensive multidisciplinary descrip- cessor, the Empress Anna; it included professionals tions of the Arctic Regions were published by whal- from the Imperial Academy of Science. It was again ing captains Zorgdrager (1720, 1727),6 Martens commanded by Bering, and to his dismay, because (1765), and Scoresby (1820), who were inter- of political and bureaucratic interference, it grew to ested mainly in the commercial aspects of explor- involve more than 3000 people and thousands of atory voyages. However, from the sixteenth to the horses.10 The scientists made plant collections and eighteenth century, the progression of geographi- the first scientific observations of birds and mam- cal awareness and international communications mals in central and eastern Siberia. Upon reaching also led to increasing interest in factual knowledge Kamchatka, Bering built new ships and crossed the about the whole planet, including the Arctic regions. North Pacific Ocean, making landfall on islands ad- Universities, Academies of Learning, and Royal Soci- jacent to the coast of Alaska, where the natural- eties in several countries became centers or leaders ist Steller made impressive first studies of plants, in investigation of what became known as ‘science,’ birds, sea and land mammals of northwest North whose ideas and findings were openly shared or America.11 When the remnants of the expedition debated without regard to national borders. This returned to Siberia after ten years, Empress Anna was rather distinct from the nationally-based geo- had died, and there was no further support in Russia graphical societies that also were developing at the for northern scientific studies for several decades. time, largely centered on geographical exploration, Steller’s scientific records and journals were filed in commerce, and empire-building. The phenomena the Academy of Science and not published for many of magnetism, the pull of gravity, tides and ocean years, although some of his findings made their way currents, patterns of weather, the precise shape of into European scientific literature. 7 8 the planet itself and its distance from the sun and the moon, were seen to be important subjects that In 1765 and 1766, Empress Katarina (Catherine) the could not be pursued only within national boundar- Great revived Russian interest in the far north, and ies nor directly restricted to commercial resources. on the advice of the eminent scientist Lomonosov, For many of these, investigations into remote parts who maintained that sea ice could not persist in the of the planet and to the Arctic regions was neces- open ocean, sent an expedition commanded by Chi- sary and logical. cagov to find a northern sailing route to Asia. The 9 three ships of this expedition were unable to pro- The Great Northern Expeditions ceed beyond the latitude of Svalbard, but obtained In the 18th century, interest in Arctic exploration depth soundings in what is now known as Fram and investigation was dominated by Russia and En- Strait, and useful descriptions of the topography gland. In Russia, Peter the Great, desirous to know and nature of west Spitzbergen.12 As with Bering the northern and eastern extent of his Empire, initi- and Steller’s work, the information was not distrib- ated an enterprise that became known as the First uted outside Russia for many decades. Kamchatka or Northern Expedition (1725-1730), commanded by a competent Dane, Vitus Bering, to explore, map, and describe the northeast coast of Within a decade of the abortive expeditions sent Siberia. The expedition, travelling overland across out by Katarina the Great of Russia, the evolving Siberia, reached the west coast of the Pacific Ocean focus on scientific investigation as distinct from and followed it north until Lat. 67°N, and proved geographical discovery resulted in an expedition led that the Eurasian and North American continents 66 00 The Phipps Expedition by Capt. Constantine Phipps and undertaken by the 03 Contributions of Former IASC Presidents