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Two Important Expeditions To Start Next Year.
Money For The Enterprise.
The Fund May Be Increased To At Least $200,000.
England and Germany In It.
New York, April 7. -- The splendid donation of $125,000, which Mr. L. W. Largstaff, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, has just made for the purpose of equipping a British Antarctic expedition, settled the question of Great Britain's participation in the work of discovery in that vast unknown expanse which Germany will enter upon next year. The Royal Geographical Society started the subscription with $25,000, and these two donations, amounting to $150,000, assure the finances of the enterprise. It is not at all unlikely that the fund will be increased to at least $200,000, which is the amount the society desired to raise. At any rate, a sufficient sum is already secured to enable England to co-operate with the finely equipped German expedition which will enter the Antarctic field next season under the command of the distinguished Greenland explorer, Dr. Erich von Drygalski, whose writings on Arctic glaciers are conceded to be the most authoritative on that topic.
Scientific societies of Great Britain and Germany have been planning since 1895 for this renewal of Antarctic exploration on a scale so large as to take that part of the world out of the realm of the unknown. A year ago last month the German commission met at Leipzig and adopted the plan of exploration which Drygalski will set about carrying out next year. It is probably the most thorough scheme of polar investigation ever devised.
The British experts fully approve of the German programme, and instead of working independently on lines of their own they will join the Germans in carrying out their ideas of what is best to be done in Antarctic exploration. This does not mean that they will occupy exactly the same field, but that they will have the same scientific programme in view. Sir Clements Markham, president of the Royal Geographical Society, has distinctly announced since Mr. Langstaff's gift assured the sending of a British expedition that the British vessel will co-operate with the German expedition. The fact that the two expeditions will be engaged in work on the same lines gives additional interest and importance to the German plan of action, of which the following are the leading features:
The Drygalski expedition proposes to sail about the beginning of August, 1900, and to return in June, 1902, an absence from home of nearly two years. The exploring steamer will carry twenty-five men, of whom five, a geographer, geologist, biologist, observer of magnetic phenomena, and physician, will compose the scientific staff. There will be five ship's officers, including two engineers, and fifteen men in the crew. The purpose is to winter on Victoria Land, discovered by Ross fifty-eight years ago, and the nearest approach to the South Pole yet made; in the southern spring of 1901, to advance over the ice of Victoria Land by sledges toward the South Pole; in the summer and early autumn to fix the location of the south magnetic pole, and if possible to explore the west coast of Victoria Land, which has not yet been visited, and later in the same season to start northward for home.
The advance into the Antarctic area will be made on the meridian of Kerguelen Island, whose advantages for this purpose are believed to be that no attack upon the south polar regions has yet been made along this line. that(sic) the magnetic work of the expedition, may be directly connected with the records at the observatory at Melbourne and the tropical observatory at Mauritius; that the oceanographical work will continue that done by the Gazelle deep-sea expedition and to be done by the Chun expedition now afloat; and, further, what is known of the ice conditions in those waters justifies the expectation that they will be favorable for navigation south of the Kerguelen for the next year or two.
During the journey to Victoria Land the expedition will endeavor definitely to locate the coasts of all lands discovered, to collect geological specimens from them and from the masses of earth found on the drift ice, study the origin and structure of the drift ice and the sea as to depth, temperature, chemical condition and organic life collect plankton or ocean organisms peculiar to the surface waters for the study of surface currents and to take deep sea temperatures to determine the origin of the deep sea currents that emerge from the Antarctic area into the open oceans; regular magnetic observations will be made on board ship and also on land and ice when opportunity occurs, and meteorological observations will also be a part of the regular routine. The same programme will be carried out during the return.
It is expected that the station on Victoria Land will be maintained at least a full year and the work there during the whole period will embrace meteorological and magnetic observations, including magnetic variations, geological journeys and collections, zoological and botanical collections, studies of the land ice and its movements, hydrographic work, including tidal measurements, astronomical determination of the site of the station, map work and pendulum observations. During the spring and summer will occur the southern sledge journey, expeditions along the coasts, and the locating of the south magnetic pole.
The Sun, on March 21, described the two small expeditions commanded by Gerlache and Borchgrevink that are already in the Antarctic. It is hoped that they will be able to do useful work, but their equipment and scientific purposes are completely dwarfed by the two expeditions that are to enter the unexplored area in 1900. There is great reason to expect that these two enterprises, splendidly equipped and scientifically directed, will widen, in a large degree, our knowledge of the geography, natural history and physical conditions of the vast region which is today the least known part of the earth.
Reproduced with permission: L.L. Dyche, Explorations (Newspaper Clippings Related to Polar Exploration), Vol. 1 & 2. University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS.
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