Why is it said that Roald Amundsen’s second expedition had a scientific purpose?

                 To obtain strong financial backing for the next expedition, Roald Amundsen came up with a scientific purpose - to determine the North Magnetic Pole. But the expedition was mainly in search of the North-West Passage.

                 In 1903, Amundsen set out from Christiania with a crew of six. The ship passed through the west coast of Greenland, Baffin Island, and Canada. The expedition had to put in strenuous efforts to overcome the hurdles of ice flows, fog and shallow water. They made their first landfall at a natural harbour on King William Island. The expedition stayed there for two years to do research, and to build observatories.

                 After two years, they left the island, and travelled to their destination. They had highly accurate instruments to determine the North Magnetic Pole. They included observations of such high accuracy that they provided the experts on polar magnetism with sufficient data.

                Unfortunately, it was later found that Amundsen never reached the real North Magnetic Pole as it had moved about 48 kilometres to the north of where he thought it was. However, the fact that the pole had been moving was of huge scientific significance. 

Who was Roald Amundsen? Why is it said that he was a man of exceptional willpower?

               Roald Amundsen, born in 1872 near Oslo, Norway, left his mark on the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’ as one of the most successful polar explorers of all time. He was the first to reach the South Pole, on 14th December 1911. He was also the first to make a ship voyage through the North-West Passage, and one of the first to cross the Arctic by air.

               From his childhood days, Amundsen aspired to become an explorer. But his parents forcibly sent him for medical studies. After the death of his parents Amundsen decided to pursue his ambition.

               At first he was appointed in a ship sailing on a Belgian-financed Antarctic expedition led by the polar explorer Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery. On the way, the expedition got trapped in ice. They were stranded for 13 months, and most of the crew members contracted scurvy. The captain also fell ill. Amundsen, as first mate, took over the command.

               He ordered to catch seals and penguins for food. He also came up with the idea of making warm clothes out of woollen blankets. Thus the expedition survived the extreme winter. 

Why is it said that the third voyage of Sir John Franklin was fateful?

               The British ‘North-West Passage Expedition’ of 1845 was proposed by the Admiralty in February. The two ships allocated to the expedition, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, left England on 19th May 1845. The expedition wintered at Beechey Island, and then they sailed southwards along the western side of Cornwallis Island.

               Later, they continued to the Victoria Strait, where three young sailors died. Initially it was thought that the sailors died of extreme weather conditions, but later it was discovered that they died of lead poisoning from canned food. The young sailors were buried on the King William Island.

              The expedition gradually started meeting a terrible fate. The ice did not melt in the spring; they were trapped in the ice for 18 months. They ran out of food and supplies. John Franklin died in June 1847. The ice bound ships were abandoned and the entire crew perished from starvation, hypothermia, tuberculosis, lead poisoning and scurvy.

               The dreadful fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew prevented any further exploration to the north for many years. 

Who was Sir John Franklin?

            Sir John Franklin was a naval officer and Arctic explorer. He was born on 16th April 1786 in Spilsby, England. Franklin entered the Royal Navy at the age of fourteen.

            In 1821, Franklin was ordered to chart the northern shoreline of Canada. It became the first expedition to map large sections of the Arctic seaboard.

            He led another expedition in 1825. The expedition took two routes from Mackenzie Delta. One ventured east to map as far as the Coppermine River while Franklin led the other west toward Alaska.

            He is best known for leading his third, the tragic 1845 expedition, to find the North-West Passage. It was in the year 1844 British Admiralty planned an expedition to the North-West Passage. Although Franklin was in his late fifties, he campaigned hard to lead the expedition. The Admiralty gave him command in February 1845. It is said to be the most technologically advanced polar expedition at that time.

            This expedition is remembered in history as one of the most tragic expeditions ever. All the sailors perished on that voyage, including Sir John Franklin despite being close to discovering the elusive sea route through the Canadian north. 

When did polar exploration become frequent?

               The mapping of the world was almost finished before 1800. Almost every nook and corner of the world had been discovered and charted, except for some of the most inhospitable parts of the world.

               In the 18th and 19th centuries, both the British and Dutch remained curious about the North-West Passage. They tried to find out the lands across the North-West Passage. In 1741, Christopher Middleton attempted to find the Passage with two ships, but the expedition was a failure.

               In 1773, under the leadership of Horatio Nelson, a British, an expedition reached much nearer to North Pole.

               In the 18th century, the last serious attempt was James Cook’s abortive expedition of 1778 when he successfully passed through the Bering Straits. Unfortunately, he had to reroute due to sea ice.

               Throughout the 19th century, polar exploration dominated popular culture in Europe and America. The major goals of the 19th century exploration were the discovery of the North-West Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via a northern route and reaching the North Pole.