Maud and The Electric Earth

Maud and The Electric Earth

Maud was built for Roald Amundsen so he could explore the Arctic and the Northeast Passage.

The Maud, named for Queen Maud of Norway, was a ship built for Roald Amundsen for his second expedition to the Arctic.

Designed for his intended voyage through the Northeast Passage, the vessel was specially built at a shipyard in Asker, Norway on the Oslofjord.

The Maud was launched in June 1916 and christened by Roald Amundsen by crushing a chunk of ice against her bow:

It is not my intention to dishonour the glorious grape, but already now you shall get the taste of your real environment.

For the ice you have been built, and in the ice you shall stay most of your life, and in the ice you shall solve your tasks.

With the permission of our queen, I christen you: Maud.

The Northeast Passage (abbreviated as NEP) is an Arctic Ocean shipping route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, traversing the Arctic following Russia’s and Norway’s coasts.

The NEP traverses (from West to East) the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, and Chukchi Sea, and it includes the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen (Norwegian: 16 July 1872 – c. 18 June 1928) was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions.

He led the Antarctic expedition (1910–12) that was the first to reach the South Pole, on 14 December 1911.

In 1926 he was the first expedition leader to be recognized without dispute as having reached the North Pole.

He is also known as having the first expedition to traverse the Northwest Passage (1903–06) in the Arctic.

He disappeared in June 1928 in the Arctic while taking part in a rescue mission by plane.

The voyage was to the northeasterly direction over the Kara Sea.

Amundsen planned to freeze the Maud into the polar ice cap and drift towards the North Pole (as Nansen had done with the Fram)

Maud was designed with a round hull so that she [and her crew] could survive being [deliberately] trapped in sea ice [for up to five years] in the [vain] hope she would drift towards the North Pole.

The voyage was to the northeasterly direction over the Kara Sea.

Amundsen planned to freeze the Maud into the polar ice cap and drift towards the North Pole (as Nansen had done with the Fram)…

During a tremendous ice-pressure October 28 [1923] the ice-floe in which the Maud had been lying solidly frozen fast for 13 months was crushed to pieces and the ice-house disappeared.

The ice-thermometers were lost, but the loss was not serious, because a spare set was at hand.

A few days later the movement of the ice was repeated with still more violence and the Maud was subjected to a crucial test, which she stood splendidly.

She was not caught in the jam, but lifted out, because the ice could not get a hold on her round hull.

Narrative of the Expedition 1918-1925 – H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

During her first voyage [1918-21 led by Roald Amundsen] Maud got stuck in winter ice but on both occasions the ice wasn’t drifting ice.

Her second voyage [1922-25 led by Oscar Wisting] was slightly more successful in that Maud became stuck in ice and drifted for two years but she didn’t drift towards the North Pole.

Route of the Maud
Expedition of 1918-1921
Captain Amundsen’s plan was to follow the Russian and Siberian coasts eastward to about 165° east longitude, to penetrate as far north as possible in this longitude, let his vessel, the Maud, which was especially built for this expedition, freeze in there, and then let the vessel be carried by the drifting ice across the Polar Sea until it was released from the grip of the ice between Spitzbergen and Greenland, where the vast ice-masses from the Arctic are drifting slowly south to the Atlantic Ocean.

The main object of the Expedition was to study the physical conditions of the Arctic Ocean, but along with the oceanographic work a number of other observations of interest to geophysics were to be carried out; these included, among others, meteorological, aerological, and magnetic observations.

The Maud left Vardo, Norway, July 18, 1918.

The Maud left Ayon Island July 6 and anchored at Nome [Alaska] July 27, 1920.

After a short stay, the Maud again left for the Arctic August 8, 1920, to make a third attempt to penetrate the large drifting ice-fields of the north.

The attempt failed once more.

Even in Bering Strait heavy ice was encountered and it was only with great difficulty that Cape Serdze Kamen, 70 miles west of the Strait, was reached.

Further progress was absolutely impossible, and accordingly winter-quarters for 1920 to 1921 were established at Cape Serdze Kamen.

In the last struggle against the ice the propeller was broken and the shaft was damaged.

The following summer (1921) it was necessary to proceed to Seattle for repairs to the vessel.

Expedition of 1922-1925
From Nome the Maud crossed to East Cape (Kain-ge-skon) on the Siberian side of Bering Strait, where dogs and fur clothing were taken on board.

The Maud then returned to Alaska and remained for two weeks at Deering, Kotzebue Sound, the season being not far enough advanced for proceeding… to the vicinity of
Wrangell Island under the command of Oscar Wisting, to be forced into the drift-ice and, if possible, to be carried by the drifting ice-fields across the Arctic Sea to the region north of Spitzbergen.

The drift was expected to take from three to five years and the time was to be devoted to scientific observations of interest to various branches of geophysics.

The ice was met at a short distance from Point Hope, but Captain Wisting succeeded in penetrating to the vicinity of Herald Island, where the Maud was closed in by the ice August 8, 1922, in latitude 71° 16′ north and longitude 184° 54′ east.

We did not succeed in drifting across the Polar Sea, but on August 9, 1924, after two years, were released from the drift-ice in latitude 76° 15′ north and longitude 143° 12′ east, north of the New Siberian Islands.

After an unsuccessful attempt to get around the eastern side of the New Siberian Islands, we had to turn around and follow the western side of these islands to the Siberian mainland.

Here every attempt to make progress was definitely stopped.

No leads could be found, either close to the coast or at greater distances from shore, and, after a week of futile attempts, winter-quarters of comparative safety were sought close to Four Pillar Island of the Bear Island group.

The ice broke around the Maud July 13, 1925, and progress toward Bering Strait was resumed.

Finally, on August 6 we saw the last ice-floes disappear in the fog behind us and for the first time in more than three years we were sailing in open water.

Our cruise in the Arctic was ended when the Maud was lying peacefully anchored off Nome on August 22, 1925.

Narrative of the Expedition 1918-1925 – H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

Oscar Adolf Wisting (6 June 1871 – 5 December 1936) was a Norwegian polar explorer. Together with Roald Amundsen he was the first person to reach both the North and South Poles.

From 1918 to 1925 Wisting was chief officer on board the Maud in Roald Amundsen’s attempt to traverse the Northeast passage.

From 1923 to 1925 Wisting more or less acted as leader of the expedition after Amundsen left to try to fly to the pole instead.

But Maud succeeded scientifically due to the diligence and dedication of Harald Sverdrup.

In contrast to Amundsen’s earlier expeditions, this was expected to yield more material for academic research, and he carried the geophysicist Harald Sverdrup on board.

Harald Ulrik Sverdrup;brand=eschol

Harald Ulrik Sverdrup (15 November 1888 – 21 August 1957) was a Norwegian oceanographer and meteorologist who made a number of important theoretical discoveries in these fields.

Having first worked in Bergen and Leipzig he was the scientific director of the North Polar expedition of Roald Amundsen aboard the Maud from 1918 to 1925.

His measurements of bottom depths, tidal currents, and tidal elevations on the vast shelf areas off the East Siberian Sea correctly described the propagation of tides as Poincare waves.

Upon his return from this long expedition exploring the shelf seas to the north of Siberia, he became the chair in meteorology at the University of Bergen in Norway.

The importance Roald Amundsen placed upon the scientific data [or his personal correspondence] cost two men their lives.

Early in the spring of 1919 Captain Amundsen resolved to send home by way of Dickson Island all observations obtained during the first wintering.

He hoped that the ice-conditions would permit him to begin the drift in 1919, and thought it would be best to let two men take the results of that year’s work to civilization as soon as possible, mainly because the observations might be lost if the Maud were crushed in the ice.

For that reason, in the middle of August all the observations were packed in three packages and sewed up in oilcloth.

One of the packages, containing all original magnetic observations and registrations, information necessary for the computations, maps, and sketches, was addressed to the Director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.

After a hard struggle against the ice, the Maud was able to leave the first winter-quarters September 12, 1919.

The two men, Tessem and Knudsen, who had been selected to take back the observations, were left behind.

They had built a house on shore, and were equipped with tent, sledge, five dogs, provisions and fuel for about one year, rifles, ammunition, maps of the coast, compasses, watch, and theodolite.

They were instructed to start, if possible, for Dickson Island in the fall as soon as the ice was trustworthy, but if in their own judgment it was not advisable to go during the fall, then to wait until the next spring.

Between Cape Chelyuskin and Dickson Island, three caches with supplies of provisions and fuel had been laid out in 1915, and the greatest distance between any two caches was only 250 miles.

The plan seemed perfectly safe, and, in addition, both men were experienced in arctic traveling and were good hunters.

However, they failed to reach Port Dickson.

A searching expedition, sent out by the Norwegian Government in 1920, brought no information as to their fate, but in 1922 a Russian Expedition found the body of Tessem.

At some distance from the place where the body was discovered, a cache was found, where Tessem had deposited his belongings and the packages which had been intrusted to him.

The cache had evidently been visited by wild animals, because the packages and Tessem’s belongings were scattered all over a small mound and one package was torn to pieces.

The package which had been addressed to the Director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism was, however, undisturbed.

Narrative of the Expedition 1918-1925 – H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

In 1919 Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s ship Maud, left behind two men, Peter Tessem and Paul Knutsen, at Cape Chelyuskin after having made winter quarters there.

The Maud continued eastwards into the Laptev Sea and the men were instructed to wait for the freeze-up of the Kara Sea and then sledge southwestwards towards Dikson carrying Amundsen’s mail.

However, these two men disappeared mysteriously and were never seen again.

In 1922 Nikifor Begichev led a Soviet expedition in search for Peter Tessem and Paul Knutsen on request of the government of Norway, but Begichev was not successful.

Amundsen’s dedication to science is doubtful and his observations were very limited by a series [varies by source] of [strangely convenient] misfortunes and his dedication to cooking.

During this time, Amundsen participated little in the work outdoors, such as sleigh rides and hunting, because he had suffered numerous injuries.

He had a broken arm and had been attacked by polar bears.

He departed from Norway in 1918 aboard the Maud.

In the ensuing year, however, Amundsen suffered three accidents, including an attack from a polar bear and carbon monoxide poisoning aboard ship.

Roald Amundsen – Essay prepared for The Encyclopedia of the Arctic by J. M. Karpoff

Click to access Amundsen.pdf

Most of the observational work was entrusted to the writer, but Captain Amundsen himself planned to make the magnetic observations.

As stated above, it was Captain Amundsen’s intention to make the magnetic observations himself, but on September 30, when the magnetic observatory was ready for use, he had the misfortune to fall and break his right arm close to the shoulder.

The magnetic observations up to the end of November were made, therefore, by the writer, at which time Captain Amundsen was able to take over a part and, later, all of them.

It may be mentioned that systematic observations of the northern lights were not carried out, because there was no regular night-watch.

Every display of northern lights between 8 h and 22 h was, however, noted.

The atmospheric-electric observations, therefore, had to be given up for the years 1918 to 1921.

Before departing from Nome, the personnel of the Expedition was reduced to four, four having left at Nome because the Expedition would last several years more than anyone thought when the start was made in 1918.

This had, of course, an influence upon the scientific work, which also was hampered by the severe weather conditions during the first part of the winter.

The ice broke up close to the shore several times in October and November, and it was not until the end of November that the Maud was frozen fast. At the end of November a snow-hut, where a few observations were made, was built on the shore north of the vessel.

Captain Amundsen himself acted as cook and was for that reason prevented from observing.

Narrative of the Expedition 1918-1925 – H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

However, the scientific observations made by Harald Sverdrup are truly electrifying.

For starters, Harald Sverdrup confirmed the “the fundamental electrical heartbeat of the planet” [aka Carnegie Curve] originally observed during the Carnegie voyages of 1915-1921.

Daily Variation of Atmospheric Potential Gradient

Magnetic, Atmospheric-Electric, and Auroral Results, Maud Expedition, 1918-1925
H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

The voyages of the sailing ship Carnegie from 1915 until 1921 not only contributed to the charting of the Earth’s magnetic field but also measured the electrostatic voltage gradient in the air above the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.

Sky voltage refers to an electrostatic voltage gradient that is present in the free air of the atmosphere, and which can have a different voltage potential relative to the surface of the planet.

The gradient varies with atmospheric humidity, dropping lower on days with high humidity, and higher in very dry air.

The voltage potential averages about 120 volts per meter. [entry deleted 25 February 2015]

Experiments have shown that the intensity of this electric field is greater in the middle of the day than at morning or night and is also greater in winter than in summer.

In ‘fine weather’, the potential, aka ‘voltage’, increases with altitude at about 30 volts per foot (100 V/m), when climbing against the gradient of the electric field.

This electric field gradient continues up into the atmosphere to a point where the voltage reaches its maximum, in the neighborhood of 300,000 volts.

This occurs at approximately 30–50 km above the Earth’s surface.

From that point in the atmosphere up to its outer limit, nearly 1,000 km, the electric field gradient produced in the lower atmosphere either ceases or has reversed.

Global daily cycles, with a minimum and a peak at roughly 16:00 hours later, were researched by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in the 20th century.

This Carnegie curve variation has been described as “the fundamental electrical heartbeat of the planet”.
Volta, over a century ago, discovered with some degree of exactitude that the proportions of the ordinates of the curve or gradient of electric potential increased as the distance from the earth increases, and, more recently, Engel has provided data to calculate the increase.

It appears that the electric density increases 88 volts with each metre of altitude above the earth, or, in feet equivalents, 1-19 volts per foot of altitude.

Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society – Volume 33 – 1908

Harald Sverdrup also documented the magnetic heartbeat [at Cape Chelyuskin and Four Pillar Island] where the diurnal range is influenced by magnetic latitude and sunspots.

Arctic Diurnal Variation of Magnetic Declination

Sun spots and Magnetic Declination

Magnetic, Atmospheric-Electric, and Auroral Results, Maud Expedition, 1918-1925
H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

Magnetic declination

The electrical heartbeat peaks around 19:00 UTC whilst the magnetic heartbeat at Cape Chelyuskin peaks about four hours later at 23:00 UTC.

Cape Chelyuskin Magnetic Declination Cycle

Cape Chelyuskin Krasnoyarsk Krai Russia
Latitude Longitude 77.703838 104.161191
Standard timezone offset UTC +7.00

Coordinated Universal Time (French: temps universel coordonné), abbreviated as UTC, is the primary civil time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time.

It does not observe daylight saving time although many countries adopt this for a part of the year in their civil timescale.

Universal Time has been split into three closely related versions, UT0, UT1, and UT2, which all tick the same to within fifty milliseconds.

Greenwich Mean Time corresponds to UT1.

Sverdrup’s magnetic observations further underlined the influence of sunspot numbers which the Carnegie results showed are correlated with the atmospheric potential gradient.

Atmospheric Potential Gradient versus Sun Spots

Ocean Magnetic and Electric Observations, 1915-1921 (1926)
Carnegie Institution of Washington. Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
Ault, J. P.; Mauchly, S. J.; Peters, W. J.; Bauer, Louis A.; Fleming, J. A.

Harald Sverdrup also correlated magnetic activity with aurora activity.

Magnetic Correlation with Auroral Character

Magnetic, Atmospheric-Electric, and Auroral Results, Maud Expedition, 1918-1925
H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

Sverdrup also identified a periodicity in his Siberian aurora observations which is almost a day longer than the 27 day periodicity [associated with Solar rotation] observed in Earth currents.

Siberian Auroras and 27-day Earth-Current cycle

Attention may here be drawn to the results obtained by W. J. Peters and C. C. Ennis (see also Fig. 41) regarding a possible periodicity of earth-currents corresponding to the period of rotation of the Sun.

These investigations found well-established evidence for a period of 27 days, which is almost 1 day shorter than the period here found for the aurora.

Whether this discrepancy is a real feature or results from insufficient data is a question the answer to which must await the accumulation of more data.

Magnetic, Atmospheric-Electric, and Auroral Results, Maud Expedition, 1918-1925
H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

A telluric current (from Latin tellūs, “earth”), or Earth current, is an electric current which moves underground or through the sea.

Telluric currents result from both natural causes and human activity, and the discrete currents interact in a complex pattern.

The currents are extremely low frequency and travel over large areas at or near the surface of the Earth.

Sverdrup also documented a correlation between wind velocity and the atmospheric potential gradient.

Wind Velocity and Atmospheric Potential Gradient

It is evident from these compilations that the potential gradient generally increases when the wind-velocity becomes greater than about five meters per second, the snowdrift generally beginning at this wind-velocity.

Whether the decrease of the potential gradient with wind-velocities smaller than 3 to 4 meters per second represents a real feature or not is doubtful (see Fig. 30).

A direct comparison between the records of wind-velocity and potential gradient reveals a much closer connection between the two factors.

A few curves have been reproduced in Figures 31 to 34 to demonstrate this.

The curves for the potential gradient are traced directly from the records, but the wind-curves are drawn by means of the scaled mean hourly wind velocities and appear, therefore, very smooth.

Wind Velocity daily plots
Magnetic, Atmospheric-Electric, and Auroral Results, Maud Expedition, 1918-1925
H. U. Sverdrup
Land Magnetic and Electric Observations – 1918-1926
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism – Carnegie Institution of Washington – 1927

In 1927 Sverdrup calculated the “electromotive forces which would be induced… at the magnetic poles of the Earth on account of the rotation of its magnetic field” and his calculated “incoming current” of charged particles from the Sun was “in remarkable agreement” with the observational data from the Carnegie, Maud and certain land stations.

The first part of the paper contains a formal computation of the electromotive forces which would be induced, under certain hypotheses, at the magnetic poles of the Earth on account of the rotation of its magnetic field.

Supposing that these electromotive forces act upon charged particles entering the upper atmosphere and coming from the Sun, it is possible to compute an incoming “current”.

The principal assumptions are:

(1) That charged particles of a given sign are accelerated towards the Earth when the electromotive forces have certain directions referred to the relative position of Sun and Earth,
(2) that the effect is of equal magnitude along the three rectangular axes.

The “current” thus computed shows a diurnal variation and annual variations of phase-angle and of amplitude which are in remarkable agreement with corresponding variations of the atmospheric potential-gradient as actually determined from observations made at sea by the Carnegie, in the Arctic by the Maud Expeditions, and at certain land stations.

This agreement appears too good to be accidental; it is difficult, however, to develop a physical basis to explain relation between the two phenomena.

Preliminary note on electromotive forces possibly produced by the Earth’s rotating magnetic field and on observed diurnal-variation of the atmospheric potential-gradient
G. R. Wait and H. U. Sverdrup – 1927 – American Geophysical Union

Sadly, the electrifying work of Harald Sverdrup has not been developed by Settled Science.

The Maud was sold in 1925 on behalf of Amundsen’s creditors and in the winter of 1926 she was stuck in ice at Cambridge Bay [Nunavut, Canada] and sank there in 1930.

Maud Shipwrecked

After sailing through the Northeast Passage, which did not go as planned and took six years between 1918 and 1924, she ended up in Nome, Alaska and in August 1925 was sold on behalf of Amundsen’s creditors in Seattle, Washington.

The buyer was the Hudson’s Bay Company which renamed her Baymaud.

She was to be used as a supply vessel for Company outposts in Canada’s western Arctic.

However, in the winter of 1926 she was frozen in the ice at Cambridge Bay, where she sank in 1930.

Roald Amundsen

Harald Sverdrup wrote an appraisal of Roald Amundsen for Encyclopedia Arctica.

Amundsen said of himself that he never became an arctic explorer, because since he was fifteen years old all his thoughts and his energy had been directed toward one goal – the expansion of our knowledge of the polar regions.

Circumstances made it necessary for him to change plans and make detours, but after he had sailed through the Northwest Passage, his one all-absorbing idea, from 1908 to 1926, was to cross the Polar Sea and reach the North Pole.

The attainment of the South Pole was incidental.

Amundsen was not a scientist and he never claimed to be one.

He was interested in securing accurate information wherever he traveled and in giving specialists opportunities to carry out observations on his expeditions, but he cared little for their conclusions and even less for their theories.

When he talked about men of science he had met, he would stress their personal characteristics and not their scientific attainments.

Thoroughness in planning, meticulous attention to details, and nearly fussy orderliness combined with bold initiative laid the foundations for Amundsen’s success.

To this should be added his ability to select suitable companions and to gain their unqualified confidence in his leadership.

In selecting his men, he apparently looked for one particular characteristic: resourcefulness.

When the preparations were still in progress, he might ask a question about a difficult task or give a man an impossible assignment.

If he got the answer “It can’t be done,” he was through with the man then and there, but if the man later on returned to the matter and explained how he had tried to tackle the problem, Amundsen was satisfied even if the result was absolutely negative.

On his expeditions Amundsen required of his men a punctuality and orderliness corresponding to his own.

During the Maud expedition, he himself worked as cook for two years with the members of the party alternating as mess boys.

Never was the galley more shining with a designated spot for every pot and spoon and with every utensil in its proper place.

He established a strict daily routine broken by festive occasions during which he more than anyone else knew how to create a congenial atmosphere.

His men loved him.

Amundsen’s trouble with his finances stood in sharp contrast to his meticulous orderliness in all details, probably because to him money was a necessary evil of no independent value.

To this must be added that, like many other great explorers, he believed in his own mission, and when funds were not forthcoming from expected sources he was likely to ascribe this to lack of appreciation or even to take it as a personal affront.

His belief in himself was his greatest strength without which he could not have attained his goals, but this belief combined with his great sensitivity was also a weakness which in course of the years made him a bitter and lonely man.

Occasionally he was misused by publicity seekers and such instances made him suspicious toward anyone who approached him.

He had to pay a high price for his success: his faith in human nature.

Still, among his few personal friends he was the most warm-hearted, hospitable, generous, and charming person.

Few men have during life followed a single line with greater perseverance and greater success.

The glory of his death together with the brilliancy of his many achievements have forever placed Amundsen in the foremost rank of the great explorers.

Vilhalmur Stefansson’s Encyclopedia Arctica – Volume 15 – Biographies: Roald Amundsen

Gallery | This entry was posted in Astrophysics, Atmospheric Science, Earth, Electric Universe, Geomagnetism, Gravity, History, Magnetism, Solar System. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Maud and The Electric Earth

  1. Link to G. R. Wait and H. U. Sverdrup – 1927 – American Geophysical Union is broken. Well it’s not but it does not take you to the information

  2. Pingback: Atmospheric Electricity | MalagaBay

  3. Pingback: SEA ICE NEWS –Backing Off The Ice– | the WeatherAction News Blog

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