Roald Amundsen among the magneticians

Category Geophysic
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Good, Gregory A
Holding Date 03 September 2008

During a quarter of a century in the early 20th century, polar explorer Roald Amundsen developed a strong collaboration with scientists who investigated Earth’s magnetism. The Potsdam Geomagnetic Observatory outside Berlin, Germany provided instruments, calibration, and training for him and his crew in the months before they embarked for the first successful navigation of the Northwest Passage between 1903 and 1906. He and his mates conducted the famous search for the North Magnetic Pole, first visited by James Clark Ross in 1831. They confirmed that the pole moves and located its new position. But less dramatically, they also maintained a series of regular magnetic observations in their fixed camp at Gjøahavn, the most northerly magnetic observatory in the western hemisphere at the time. Amundsen also collaborated with the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in the 1920s when he and a crew drifted through the arctic ice north of Asia in the Maud. A magnetometer from this expedition is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. This presentation addresses questions about the state of geomagnetic research in this period and why both the scientists and explorers saw this collaboration to be in their interest.