Early Endeavors 1880s1930s

The foundations of Arctic science, and meteorology in particular, were laid by the first International Polar Year (IPY). This program was the outcome of a suggestion by Karl Weyprecht of Austria for an International Polar Expedition. Planning began at a conference in Hamburg in 1879, with 11 nations pledging support. Weyprecht died in 1881, but the first International Polar Year (IPY) was mounted in 1882-1883. Twelve principal stations were established in the North Polar Region, although the Dutch expedition bound for Dikson at the mouth of the Yenisey River became beset in ice in the Kara Sea. Important contributions to polar science were made during the IPY, but the widely spaced stations made it difficult to use the data for meteorological studies. Moreover, the drama of Adolphus Greely's expedition to Lady Franklin Bay, Ellesmere Island, and the expedition's "farthest north" (83°24' N on the North Greenland coast) tended to overshadow the scientific achievements. A Second International Polar Year was conducted in 1932-1933, 50 years after the first one, with some 94 Arctic meteorological stations in operation (Laursen, 1959). However, World War II prevented much of the data from being published and fully analyzed.

The first significant meteorological data for the central Arctic were collected by Henrik Mohn during the 1893-1896 drift of the Fram under Fridtjof Nansen (Mohn, 1905). Roald Amundsen organized the Maud expedition, 1922-1925, to perform a similar drift in the Arctic. The scientific program, led by Harald Ulrik Sverdrup (1933), is noteworthy because the observations of Finn Malmgren laid the foundation for modern sea ice research. Another major prewar milestone was the establishment by aircraft of the first of the Soviet Union's Arctic drifting stations, North Pole 1, on an ice-floe in 1937; the four-man team was led by Ivan Papanin (see Drifting Stations). There were two major expeditions to Greenland in the 1930s. The British Arctic Air Route Expedition (Mirrless, 1932) and Alfred Wegener's Greenland Expedition operated their stations—Watkins Ice Cap (67.1° N 41.8° W, 2440 m) and Eismitte (70.9° N 40.7° W, 3000 m)— during 1930-1931, yielding the first detailed information on the ice sheet climate (Loewe, 1936).

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