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Arctic discovery

a sunset over a body of water

For centuries, the Arctic has been the stuff of imagination for many. Due to the harsh climate and remote location, few people could live there and few could explore extensively. Recent technological advances and the retreat of glaciers have opened up large swaths of the Arctic to maritime routes and resource exploitation, thanks to centuries of expeditions mapping the region. It became possible.

Although indigenous peoples have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years, it is relatively recent that expeditions began mapping the land and waters. Here is an overview of the history of Arctic exploration.

Arctic discovery

a bus parked in front of a building

The ancient Greeks were the first non-natives to attempt an Arctic expedition. In fact, the English word “Arctic” is derived from the Greek word “arctos”, which means “bear” and is related to the constellation Ursa Major. His Pytheas, a Greek navigator, is said to have discovered the northern extremity of Europe when he sailed in search of sources of tin, which was occasionally brought to the shores of the Greek colony of Massilia (now Marseilles in southern France). Told.

According to Pytheas, he sailed from Massilia in 325 BC, sailed around the Iberian Peninsula and the coast of France, reached Brittany in northwestern France, and then circumnavigated the British Isles. He mingled with the locals and headed north in search of the imaginary Thule, but his voyage was cut short in the frozen waters. He describes the situation at that time as “solidified”. Pytheas also saw what appeared to be the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun, and he is thought to have reached the Arctic Circle. Later historians are of the opinion that the land that Pytheas called Thule was either the Norwegian coast or the Shetland Islands. Greek and Roman historians after Pytheas dismissed his voyage as an illusion.

The next record of Arctic expeditions will have to wait until the Middle Ages, when Viking captain Garzar Svavarsson found Iceland after being washed away on a voyage from Norway to the Faroe Islands. In the 900s, Viking captain Gunbjörn Wolfsson found Greenland after being lost in a storm. His records mention Eric the Red, an outlaw Viking chieftain who founded a colony in Greenland in 985. The colony he founded in Greenland was initially thriving, but the Little Ice Age of the 1300s brought him to ruin by 1450.

Viking explorers then headed west of Greenland in search of new lands. This led to the discovery of Vinland, now Canada’s Newfoundland, in the 1000s. In 880, the Viking captain Ohhothele of Halogalan successfully sailed the Scandinavian and Kola peninsulas and reached the White Sea. In 1533, Russian monks discovered Pechenga Monastery on the Kola Peninsula. After using it as an exploration base for the Eurasian Arctic, the map of the Northern Sea Route was drawn, and it was decided to set foot deep into Siberia. In 1648 Semyon Dezhnev sailed the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska.

Following the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World, interest in the Arctic in Western Europe rekindled in the 1400s and 1500s. Exploration at the time focused on the hypothetical Northwest Passage, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were all connected by sea, allowing direct trade between Europe and China. For decades, though the discovery of the St. Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1564 sparked public interest in the Northwest Passage, and although Martin Hudson, his robisher Henry Hudson, and other explorers set sail Couldn’t find a route.

Advances in nautical technology led to new expeditions to find the Northwest Passage in the 1800s. The route is believed to have been discovered by Robert McClure’s discovery of Melville Island in 1851, but the route was blocked by sea ice. Land exploration also began to take place around this time. The Northwest Passage was not crossed until Norwegian captain Roald Amundsen conquered it in 1906.

Interest in reaching the North Pole was also driven around this time. In 1909, American explorer Robert Peary claimed to be the first human to reach the North Pole with the help of a dog sled and a support party. But that claim is disputed by modern-day explorers, who would have never reached the Arctic with the tools available to him at the time. Frederick Cook’s claim that he had already reached the North Pole in 1908 was also controversial.

A number of expeditions to the North Pole were made at the time, but most failed, such as the Janet Expedition in 1879. In 1926, American pilots Richard Evelyn Byrd and Floyd Bennett claimed to have flown over the North Pole, but this was disputed. The first undisputed discovery of the North Pole was in 1926 when Roald Amundsen and Lincoln Ellsworth flew on the airship Norge.

In 1948, Soviet Alexander Kuznetsov flew near the North Pole and walked to it. This was the first time I reached the North Pole on foot. In 1959 he did not see the American submarine Nautilus surface anywhere, but she crossed under sea ice to reach the North Pole. The first person to follow the sea ice to the North Pole and back was Ralph Plaisted, who conquered it on a snowmobile in 1968. A year later, American Wally Herbert reached the North Pole on foot and by dogsled.

Over the years since these expeditions, many amateur explorers have successfully reached the North Pole. In 1995, Canadian skier Richard Webber and Russian skier Mischa Malakhov were the first to reach poles on foot without human assistance. In 2007, the British BBC TV program “Top Gear” introduced the arrival of the North Pole by a modified Toyota Hilux. Several manned submersibles then reached the polar seafloor as part of the 2007 Arctic expedition with the Arktika-class icebreaker.


a couple of people that are standing in the snow

The Arctic has always fascinated people and governments because of its rich natural resources. With climate change, humans began to settle the Arctic for the first time thousands of years ago. It is clear that the interest in this region will only increase year by year. Over the centuries, many explorers have spawned maps of the Arctic and then used it to make large areas habitable.

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