THE FROZEN SOUTH
The Ice conditions naturally preset t th> most interesting and characteristic f^a tnres of the Antartlo regions Thi TOfß^tr, on leaving <he temperate zmr to penetrate into the frozen waters of the Far Sooth, would nq^lre to have » vary considerable knowledge of navigation among toe as hU chief equipment ; »na m order io make any length of stay there, he would need a vessel of moro ths' ordinary ntrenath, oipablo of withstand Idr an i ooaiioDal f nip ' fr^m tho bator Inftrima of the d*Dßerf v* floss. Whal is the llfe-h[stn»-v nf theat fl )atIPR loa Islands and icoberps ? They are all a>>ed fr6m the parent ice-c»p that surround* the Pole. Extremes of frost Bvd the gradual projection of the ice- cap into tho ■6t are theoauses of that disrup^on* Hoio for centuries perhaps, the greit ice cap grows and moves like a living thing. Sach season a fre»h layer of snow is »dded to its thickness, which the rays of the son convert into ioe moro or less solid. Slowly the huge cumbrous mass moves over the low-)ying lauds and through the Talleye towards the nea, grinding under its enormous weight rcokt and hou ; der«, which, from the oohesive nature^ of ice I' ■ometimet gathers up and conveys along with It; and tli* dabrla is eventually d«p n sired on ths sea bottom. 1 fee c^orlng of the bergs Is mars u>ent Tha general mass closely reremb ea lot f vngar ; the oaves and orevloea are of the deepest and purest »z>ire bias, at ufght they emit a luminous glow, aod tbero are reasons to believe that many are to seme extent phosphor eicent. Like the bergs of the Arctic seas, they are bounded by perpendicular ollffc on all sides- Some Of them are more thin two miles, and some as many as fonr miles In clrcumferono, while bergs four mllea m diameter have also been seen. They have a uniform belghfof ab< ut 175 feet, 90 per oent of their volume being submerged ; but higher bergs are frequently met with, the highest seen by Oook having been e'timo'ed at from 300 to 400 feet. As they fliat northward they became tilted nnd gradually lo»e thnlr tabular apposranoe, until the warm water dissolves them.
The bergs met with, especially In the lower latitndes, assume every oonceivahle form. The Challenger, for Ihstanoe, saw one that was ' gable-sh*ped, with a glorious open Gothic sreb m the centre, and a separate spire over 200 feet high. It was like a gorgeous floating cathedral built of sapphires, set m frosted .sliver.' Bath Wllkes and Ross, among other voyagers, describe tbe exceeding beauty of these palaces, cathedrals, fblands, whlob are carved out of tolid lea and sprinkled with snow, and, sometimes populated by tengulns. Towards the Pole, however, (he icebergs, not befog so disintegrated, are uniformly tabular.The drift-Ice Is not usually to be met with at a lower latitude than 58 d^g. S. bnt Id the severe seasons of 1839 and 1840, ice-islands were observed m latitude 42 dea., and they have sometimes been 600 or 700mlles from the barrier. There was one Immense fl >at!ng Island, reported to have been passed by twentyone ships m December 1854 and January, February. March 1855. It was In the form of a hook, the longer shank of which waa sixty miles and the shorter forty miles, enclosing a bay of open water forty miles m diameter ; and its eleva.ion In one ease exceeded 300 feet. This stupendous 100-Island, as might be conceived, presented great dangers to navigation. One ship whtoh sailed Into the bay was fortunate enough to secure a ■afe retreat, but an emigrant ship, The Onidlng Star, was embayed and lost with all hands.
The pack-edge is of a deep bine color, and is always characteristic ; it consists for the roost part of heavy floe ice, muoh wore by the sea, broken op and pressed and beiped together co &b to pres nt the most irregular shaped masses The pack of the Antarctic seas is far more broken op, m consequence of the violent sterna*, than m the Arctic regions, where the sea ii usually more tranquil . The vicinity of the pack is indicated to the navigator by % beautiful meteorological phenomenon c lied the ' iceblink,' which is seen above it* and nay be described as presenting a clear band of white reflection, sometimes bounded above by a dark cloud. Boss contended for six weeks m trying to penetrate the pack to tt>3 south of Cape Born ; but his ships were so constantly beset and carried backward by the current flowing north that eventually, after experien&ng maDy perils, he abandoned the attempt. Wemaygatbbr sjhh idea of the dangers he must have encountered when we remembered that the huge Antarctic icebergs are constantly colliding and ditinte<(rating. The drift-ice, too, fa tossed about by the waves like mo many floating timbers, contact with any large body of which might prove fatal to any unfortified ■hip. The sudden, fierce gales peculiar to these regions, alternating with the •till more dangerous calme — when the sLlp floats helpless smonijst the Iee — present fresh dangers to be faced by the navigator •ndtbe frequent thick weather and heavy bilndipg falls of snow add to his embar taument. The ftee movement of his ship fa farther lmpedd by the rapidity with which tbe yoang ice forms to obstruct his passage, rendering frepuent abort ' tacks ' necessary In the small open spaoa of water, and the free handling of the ioe topes Is almost Jropoeslble when the waves conceal as they fall en the decks, and bare to be oat away with hatchets, k •torm In tbe pack, In faot, or *n ensntng dead calm, are tbe most daogerons positions In which an Antarotio voyager can be placed. . From the faot that these high southern lands, nnllke those In the antipodal regions, oan be approached from all sides at every season of tbe year, we might reasonably hare supposed that they wonld not have beec for so long unexplored had any* commensurate advantage to trade or shipping been anti efpated. Oar considerable knowledge of the Arctic regions is due, not to any opeeiei claims for their s«lentlfio exploration, bat chit fly to tbe fact that whilst tber« was a north-east and a Dorth-west pasiage to explore, or a short oat across aba Bole to China and Japan to discover, eoaomerce persistently endeavoured to break through the barriers of the Frozen £forth. In the Antarctic, on the other band, oommeres has ooncerned Itself only with the sealing and whaling produce. To the natural aotenoei it offers an area of almost virgin ground, and until it has toea systematically explored, and some knowledge of it obtained by synchronous odservations, none of those sciences can be properly equipped for a thorough Investigation Into the cosmogony of the globe. It may be a long time yet before the nation* reoognise how much their progress Is regulated by, and dependent on, tbe advance of eelence ; but we are rare there will always be found men who will Impress on the public tbe paramount importance of investigating the unknown continent of the Far Sonth.
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THE FROZEN SOUTH, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2094, 26 March 1889
THE FROZEN SOUTH Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2094, 26 March 1889
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