National Geographic : 1963 Feb
Byrd's vow on a map: "I think I'll try to clear up some of these blank spaces." The admiral's promise accompanied congratulations to his friend "Bert," Dr. Gil bert H. Grosvenor, then President and Editor of the Society, for the Geo graphic's October, 1932, map of Antarctica. The Society's new map shows how well Byrd and his successors succeeded. Grosvenor Trail is the route of Byrd's geological partyfrom Little America to Axel Heiberg Glacier. years, beginning in the 1955-56 season with preparations for the IGY, explorers and scientists have system atically attacked this last geographic fron tier-first sighted only 143 years ago. Instead of little bands of bold men who probed the un known with Scott, Shackleton, Mawson, and Byrd, hundreds sail or fly "down to the ice" each year. Even now, more than 4,000 Ameri cans and nearly 6,000 men of eight other na tionalities are bringing the 1962-63 season's work to a close; approximately 700, almost half of them Americans, will winter there. Out of such sacrifices, then, have come the nuggets of new information recorded on this latest Atlas Series Map, Antarctica.* Ninety one notes-2,900 words-highlight the history of the continent from January 17, 1773, when Capt. James Cook first crossed the Antarctic Circle, to completion of the first nuclear power plant at McMurdo Station on March 4, 1962. "Great God! this is an awful place..." wrote Robert Falcon Scott in his diary on that Janu ary day in 1912 when he reached the South Pole, only to find that Roald Amundsen had beaten him by 34 days. Scott's party perished on the re turn trek; he and his last two companions died just 11 miles from a supply cache. The map marks the tragic spot at 79° 38' S., 169° 15' E. Map notes point out that Vinson Massif, at 16,860 feet, is the highest point; that in average elevation this is the highest of continents; that offshore winds reach 200 miles an hour in this windiest of lands; that Sir Hubert Wilkins was first to use planes here in 1928; that Thurston Peninsula is now Thurston Island; that Marie Byrd Land, Ellsworth Land, and the Palmer Peninsula may be islands under the ice. © NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY One of four insets shows subglacial Ant arctica, the continent as it would appear with out its ice sheet. Another locates Antarctica and its drift ice in relation to other southern conti nents. A third enlarges the glacier-fingered Queen Maud Range, grim hurdle for Scott by land and Byrd by air on their routes to the Pole. The fourth shows detail of the McMurdo Sound area, where planes and tractor trains head in land from the United States' McMurdo Station and New Zealand's Scott Station. In addition to the geographic South Pole, on the axis of the earth's rotation, two other poles are shown: the geomagnetic, where magnetic lines of force would converge if the earth were a bar magnet; and the magnetic, 1,599 miles from the geographic Pole, where the lines of force actually enter the earth. This pole wanders northwest some eight miles a year. Just as the International Geophysical Year stirred enthusiasm that carried over into sev eral seasons of Antarctic research, a "little IGY" in 1964-65 promises to stimulate further ad vances. The "Year of the Quiet Sun" will focus world attention on the solar body while its magnetic storms are at minimum, and some of the most important observations will be from the vantage point of Antarctica. THE END *Antarctica is the 36th uniform-size map issued by the Society in the past five years; it becomes Plate 65 in the Atlas Series. A convenient Folio binds the maps; it may be ordered from the National Geographic Society, Dept. 67, Washington 6, D. C., at $4.85. Single maps, 50 cents each; a packet of the 35 maps issued from 1958 through 1962, $10.50; a combina tion of the 35 maps and Folio, $14.00 .