National Geographic : 1922 Apr
SOUTH GEORGIA, AN OUTPOST OF THE ANTARCTIC A SEA-ELEPHANT SWINGING COMPLETELY AROUND AFTER BEING AROUSED FROM SLEEP The animal has faced the sailor who stepped on his hind flippers. island was formerly completely buried by an ice-cap. The high ground of the in terior is covered with an everlasting never, which consolidates at the sources of all the valleys to form tongues of ice, most of which extend clear into the sea, ending in abrupt walls. The one incomprehensible statement in Captain Cook's account of South Georgia is his emphatic testimony that he saw no brook or stream along the whole coast. Certainly in our time the rushing torrents are a great impediment to progress on land, and during January thaws gleam ing cascades, visible from far at sea, pour from the ledges of the coast hills. IT RAINS OR SNOWS FIVE DAYS OUT OF EVERY SIX The climate of South Georgia varies relatively little throughout the year. The mean annual temperature is very close to the freezing point, and the sky is pre vailingly overclouded. February is the warmest month. Snow, generally in the form of hard, globular particles, which sting the skin like hail, falls in every month, and rain and sleet storms are both frequent and prolonged during the summer. Either rain or snow falls on about five-sixths of the days of the whole year. The greatest proportion of clear days is in winter; but November and Decem ber, the springtime of the southern world, are often made memorable by a few suc cessive days of sunshine, while on rare midsummer afternoons of January and February the jealous Ice King is some times lulled to sleep, the thermometer rises as high as 68° F., and South Georgia basks in a sparkling calm. Only on such fleeting occasions is the subtle feeling of the glaciers absent from the land and sea. There was but one hard frost at sea level during the summer of my visit, this being at the Bay of Isles on the night of January 13, when a half inch of ice formed on all the fresh-water ponds. VIOLENT GALES ARISE UNEXPECTEDLY AND SERIOUSLY MENACE NAVIGATION The prevailing winds are westerly and southwesterly, and since tremendous ba rometric changes take place very quickly at South Georgia, there is probably no 421.