National Geographic : 1949 Oct
Top of the World The National Geographic Society's New Map of Northlands T HE new National Geographic Society map, Top of the World, covers one sixth of the earth's surface, but by far the greater part of the world's industry, commerce, and military power is encompassed within its borders.* The 1,850,000 member-families of The Society who receive the new map with this issue of their NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE will find it a useful complement to the large new map in colors of Europe and the Near East that they received with their June, 1949, number. Drawn on a scale of 1:14,000,000, or 221 miles to the inch, it bears 5,057 place names and gives complete coverage of an area usually found only on two maps, one of Canada and the other of the Soviet Union.t Here, on a sheet 282 by 292 inches, is unfolded the entire picture of the important northlands, drawn from the newest available data. The tremendous amount of mapping in the far north since World War II is reflected in The Society's new map by much more detail in shore lines and shapes. As navigation of aircraft in the Arctic is admittedly difficult, the accurate delineation of coastline is an important aid to pilots. The U. S. Air Force mapping program has added much to our detailed knowledge of Alaska. Canada has made great strides in the extreme Arctic regions. Among the Canadian Arctic islands, Vic toria has become two islands through the discovery of a strait which cuts off what for merly was mapped as its northeast peninsula. Banks Island's shore line shows extensive alteration. In the Parry Islands, Borden has become twins, and what formerly was called Isachsen Island has been found to be a peninsula of Ellef Ringnes Island. Bathurst Island has turned out to be an archipelago. Most spectacular are the large new islands shown in Foxe Basin to the west of Baffin Island, one of which has been named Prince Charles after Great Britain's infant Prince. They lie north of the Foxe Peninsula, which was explored and accurately mapped in the early 1930's. The National Geographic Society first showed this change on its 1936 Canada map and has added on several later maps other details of the area as they became known. Some charts dated 1949 still show the old conception of the short, stubby Foxe Penin- sula, and of an eastern shore for Hudson Bay, also some 15 years out-of-date. Flights over North Pole Now Commonplace Flights over the North Pole are common place now for the U. S. Air Force. Never a day passes without a polar flight by a weather-observation or training plane.$ In less than a year and a half one Arctic reconnaissance squadron flew over the geo graphic North Pole a hundred times. Its in vestigations included study of the extremely complicated northern magnetic area. The new map shows the north magnetic pole as the center of this area at 73° N., 100° W., on Prince of Wales Island. This unit, the 72nd Reconnaissance Squad ron, U. S. Air Force, learned valuable lessons in Arctic aerial navigation and in global flight. Flying over large glacial areas formerly marked "unexplored" on navigation maps, its planes tested cold-weather equipment and undertook to establish safe procedures for year-round Arctic flights. The squadron ex ceeded 5,000 hours of flying time and traveled a million miles. "Flying over the Pole isn't so easy as fly ing from Washington to San Francisco," one Army flyer pointed out. "It is dreary and unexciting work, but no more difficult than other flying north of the Arctic Circle." The squadron met with many flying oddities in the far north. Although the average mis sion was of 20 hours' duration, in summer it was carried out in continuous daylight, and in winter in continuous darkness. Temperatures at a 3,000-foot altitude fre quently were registered at 90° Fahrenheit higher than those on the frozen ground. In winter it was warmer over the North Pole than at the squadron's base, Ladd Air Force Base, Fairbanks, Alaska. In winter skies were clear, with no thunderstorms and little icing. In summer skies always were cloudy. * Members may obtain additional copies of the Top of the World map (and of all standard maps published by The Society) by writing to the National Geographic Society, Washington 6, D. C. Prices, in United States and Possessions, 50( on paper; $1 on linen; Index, 25(. Outside United States and Posses sions, 75< on paper; $1.25 on linen; Index, 50(. All remittances payable in U. S. funds. Postage prepaid. t Published as supplements to the NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC MAGAZINE in June, 1947, and December, 1944, respectively. + See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "Arctic as an Air Route of the Future," by Vilhjal mur Stefansson, August, 1922, and "First Flight to the North Pole," by Lt. Comdr. Richard Evelyn Byrd, September, 1926.