Berkshire is one of the home counties in England. It was recognised by the Queen as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, letters patent were issued in 1974. Berkshire is a county of historic origin, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council; the county town is Reading. The River Thames formed the historic northern boundary, from Buscot in the west to Old Windsor in the east; the historic county therefore includes territory, now administered by the Vale of White Horse and parts of South Oxfordshire in Oxfordshire, but excludes Caversham and five less populous settlements in the east of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. All the changes mentioned, apart from the change to Caversham, took place in 1974; the towns of Abingdon, Faringdon and Wantage were transferred to Oxfordshire, the six places joining came from Buckinghamshire. Berkshire County Council was the main local government of most areas from 1889 to 1998 and was based in Reading, the county town which had its own County Borough administration.
Since 1998, Berkshire has been governed by the six unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Slough, West Berkshire and Maidenhead and Wokingham. The ceremonial county borders Oxfordshire, Greater London, Surrey and Hampshire. No part of the county is more than 8.5 miles from the M4 motorway. According to Asser's biography of King Alfred, written in 893 AD, its old name Bearrocscir takes its name from a wood of box trees, called Bearroc; this wood no longer extant, was west of Frilsham, near Abingdon. Berkshire has been the scene of some notable battles through its history. Alfred the Great's campaign against the Danes included the Battles of Englefield and Reading. Newbury was the site of two English Civil War battles: the First Battle of Newbury in 1643 and the Second Battle of Newbury in 1644; the nearby Donnington Castle was reduced to a ruin in the aftermath of the second battle. Another Battle of Reading took place on 9 December 1688, it was the only substantial military action in England during the Glorious Revolution and ended in a decisive victory for forces loyal to William of Orange.
Reading became the new county town in 1867. Under the Local Government Act 1888, Berkshire County Council took over functions of the Berkshire Quarter Sessions, covering the administrative county of Berkshire, which excluded the county borough of Reading. Boundary alterations in the early part of the 20th century were minor, with Caversham from Oxfordshire becoming part of the Reading county borough, cessions in the Oxford area. On 1 April 1974, Berkshire's boundaries changed under the Local Government Act 1972. Berkshire took over administration of Slough and Eton and part of the former Eton Rural District from Buckinghamshire; the northern part of the county became part of Oxfordshire, with Faringdon and Abingdon and their hinterland becoming the Vale of White Horse district, Didcot and Wallingford added to South Oxfordshire district. 94 Signal Squadron still keep the Uffington White Horse in their insignia though the White Horse is now in Oxfordshire. The original Local Government White Paper would have transferred Henley-on-Thames from Oxfordshire to Berkshire: this proposal did not make it into the Bill as introduced.
On 1 April 1998 Berkshire County Council was abolished under a recommendation of the Banham Commission, the districts became unitary authorities. Unlike similar reforms elsewhere at the same time, the non-metropolitan county was not abolished. Signs saying "Welcome to the Royal County of Berkshire" exist on borders of West Berkshire, on the east side of Virginia Water, on the M4 motorway, on the south side of Sonning Bridge, on the A404 southbound by Marlow, northbound on the A33 past Stratfield Saye. A flag for the historic county of Berkshire was registered with the Flag Institute in 2017. All of the county is drained by the Thames. Berkshire divides into two topological sections: west of Reading. North-east Berkshire has the low calciferous m-shaped bends of the Thames south of, a broader, gravelly former watery plain or belt from Earley to Windsor and beyond, are parcels and belts of uneroded higher sands, flints and acid soil and in north of the Bagshot Formation, north of Surrey and Hampshire.
Swinley Forest known as Bracknell Forest, Windsor Great Park and Stratfield Saye Woods have many pine, silver birch and other acid-soil trees. East of the grassy and wooded bends a large minority of East Berkshire's land mirrors the clay belt being of low elevation and on the left bank of the Thames: Slough, Eton Wick, Wraysbury and Datchet. In the heart of the county Reading's northern suburb Caversham is on that bank but rises steeply into the Chiltern Hills. Two main tributaries skirt past Reading, the Loddon and its sub-tributary the Blackwater draining parts of two counties south and the Kennet draining part of upland Wiltshire in the west. Heading west the reduced, but large, part of county becomes further from the Thames which flows from the north-north-west before the Goring Gap. To the south, the land crests along the bo
The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceans. The International Hydrographic Organization recognizes it as an ocean, although some oceanographers call it the Arctic Mediterranean Sea or the Arctic Sea, classifying it a mediterranean sea or an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, it is seen as the northernmost part of the all-encompassing World Ocean. Located in the Arctic north polar region in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere, the Arctic Ocean is completely surrounded by Eurasia and North America, it is covered by sea ice throughout the year and completely in winter. The Arctic Ocean's surface temperature and salinity vary seasonally as the ice cover melts and freezes; the summer shrinking of the ice has been quoted at 50%. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center uses satellite data to provide a daily record of Arctic sea ice cover and the rate of melting compared to an average period and specific past years. Human habitation in the North American polar region goes back at least 50,000–17,000 years ago, during the Wisconsin glaciation.
At this time, falling sea levels allowed people to move across the Bering land bridge that joined Siberia to north west North America, leading to the Settlement of the Americas. Paleo-Eskimo groups included the Pre-Dorset; the Dorset were the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture in the Arctic before the migration east from present-day Alaska of the Thule, the ancestors of the modern Inuit. The Thule Tradition lasted from about 200 B. C. to 1600 A. D. around the Bering Strait, the Thule people being the prehistoric ancestors of the Inuit who now live in Northern Labrador. For much of European history, the north polar regions remained unexplored and their geography conjectural. Pytheas of Massilia recorded an account of a journey northward in 325 BC, to a land he called "Eschate Thule", where the Sun only set for three hours each day and the water was replaced by a congealed substance "on which one can neither walk nor sail", he was describing loose sea ice known today as "growlers" or "bergy bits". Early cartographers were unsure whether to draw the region around the North Pole as water.
The fervent desire of European merchants for a northern passage, the Northern Sea Route or the Northwest Passage, to "Cathay" caused water to win out, by 1723 mapmakers such as Johann Homann featured an extensive "Oceanus Septentrionalis" at the northern edge of their charts. The few expeditions to penetrate much beyond the Arctic Circle in this era added only small islands, such as Novaya Zemlya and Spitzbergen, though since these were surrounded by pack-ice, their northern limits were not so clear; the makers of navigational charts, more conservative than some of the more fanciful cartographers, tended to leave the region blank, with only fragments of known coastline sketched in. This lack of knowledge of what lay north of the shifting barrier of ice gave rise to a number of conjectures. In England and other European nations, the myth of an "Open Polar Sea" was persistent. John Barrow, longtime Second Secretary of the British Admiralty, promoted exploration of the region from 1818 to 1845 in search of this.
In the United States in the 1850s and 1860s, the explorers Elisha Kane and Isaac Israel Hayes both claimed to have seen part of this elusive body of water. Quite late in the century, the eminent authority Matthew Fontaine Maury included a description of the Open Polar Sea in his textbook The Physical Geography of the Sea; as all the explorers who travelled closer and closer to the pole reported, the polar ice cap is quite thick, persists year-round. Fridtjof Nansen was the first to make a nautical crossing of the Arctic Ocean, in 1896; the first surface crossing of the ocean was led by Wally Herbert in 1969, in a dog sled expedition from Alaska to Svalbard, with air support. The first nautical transit of the north pole was made in 1958 by the submarine USS Nautilus, the first surface nautical transit occurred in 1977 by the icebreaker NS Arktika. Since 1937, Soviet and Russian manned drifting ice stations have extensively monitored the Arctic Ocean. Scientific settlements were established on the drift ice and carried thousands of kilometers by ice floes.
In World War II, the European region of the Arctic Ocean was contested: the Allied commitment to resupply the Soviet Union via its northern ports was opposed by German naval and air forces. Since 1954 commercial airlines have flown over the Arctic Ocean; the Arctic Ocean occupies a circular basin and covers an area of about 14,056,000 km2 the size of Antarctica. The coastline is 45,390 km long, it is surrounded by the land masses of Eurasia, North America, by several islands. It is taken to include Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East Siberian Sea, Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, White Sea and other tributary bodies of water
The Pechora River is a river in northwest Russia which flows north into the Arctic Ocean on the west side of the Ural Mountains. It lies in the Komi Republic but the northernmost part crosses the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, it is 1,809 kilometres long and its basin is 322,000 square kilometres, or about the same size as Finland. By mean annual discharge it ranks third in Europe, after the Danube, its discharge is about half that of the Danube and a little more than its sister, the Northern Dvina River, is the largest of any river with no dams in its basin outside of New Guinea. West of its lower course is the Timan Ridge. East of the basin along the west flank of the Urals is the Yugyd Va National Park. In the basin is the Virgin Komi Forests, the largest virgin forest in Europe. In the far northeast of the basin on the Usa River is the large coal center of Vorkuta; the river was once an important transportation route for those travelling to northwest Siberia. Today a railroad runs southwest from Vorkuta to Moscow.
The river rises in the Ural Mountains in the south-eastern corner of the Komi Republic. This area is part of the Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve. On the other side of the Urals are the headwaters of the Northern Sosva River; the river flows south west and turns north near Yaksha, the head of navigation for small boats. A portage led south to the Kama River basin. To the east is the upper Vychegda River, a branch of the Northern Dvina; the river flows past Komsomolsk-na-Pechore to Ust-Ilych where the Ilych River joins from the east Northwest to Troitsko-Pechorsk, north to Vuktyl and Ust-Shchuger where the Shchugor River joins from the east. The river flows north to Pechora town, where the railway from Vorkuta crosses north to Ust-Usa where the Usa River joins from the east; the Pechora curves northwest and west southwest. Izhma River joins from the south, it flows further west to Ust-Tsilma where the Pizhma River joins from the southwest and the Tsilma River joins from the west. The Pechora turns north and crosses the arctic Arctic Circle and the border of the Nenets Okrug.
The monthly average discharge of the river was recorded between 1981 and 1993 in the village of Oksino, located 141 km upstream from the mouth. The values are presented in the diagram below. Before the arrival of the railroad to the Pechora, an important way of travel to the region was via a portage road, from Cherdyn in the Kama River basin to Yaksha on the Pechora. A project for a Pechora-Kama Canal along the same general route was discussed in the 1960s through 1980s, this time not as much for transportation, but for the diversion of some of the water of the Pechora to the Kama, as part of a grand Northern river reversal scheme. However, no construction work was carried out on the route of the proposed canal, other than a triple nuclear explosion in 1971, which excavated a crater over 600 metres long; the Pechora River was the source of the name of Pechorin – protagonist of the 1839 novel A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov, a well-known work of Russian literature. Pechora in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia
HMS Alert (1856)
HMS Alert was a 17-gun wooden screw sloop of the Cruizer class of the Royal Navy, launched in 1856 and broken up in 1894. It was the eleventh ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name, was noted for her Arctic exploration work. Alert served with the US Navy, ended her career with the Canadian Marine Service as a lighthouse tender and buoy ship; the wooden sloops of the Cruizer class were designed under the direction of Lord John Hay, after his "Committee of Reference" was disbanded, their construction was supervised by the new Surveyor of the Navy, Sir Baldwin Walker. Ordered together with her co-ship Falcon on 2 April 1853, Alert was laid down at the Royal Dockyard, Pembroke in January 1855, it was fitted at Chatham with a two-cylinder horizontal single-expansion steam engine, supplied by Ravenhill & Salkeld at a cost of £6,052 and generated an indicated horsepower of 383 hp. The class was given a barque-rig sail plan. All the ships of the class were provided with one 32-pounder long gun on a pivot mount and sixteen 32-pounder carriage guns in a broadside arrangement.
When converted for Arctic exploration in 1874, her armament was reduced to a token outfit of four Armstrong breech-loaders. Alert spent the first 11 years of her life on the Pacific Station, based at Esquimalt at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada. Alert Bay, British Columbia is named after the ship, nearby Pearse Island, at the north entrance to Johnstone Strait, is named after Commander William Alfred Rumbulow Pearse, her commanding officer. During this period it returned to May 1863 for a refit, her service on the Pacific station was the type of work for which her class had been designed—the policing of Britain's far-flung maritime empire. A photograph exists of Alert at Esquimalt, British Columbia from 1867, it is further attested to by the following extract from The Colonist newspaper: "The'Alert' Taken! – On Wednesday, H. M. S. Alert was taken without resistance on the part of her officers and crew, who are believed to have lent themselves to the plot; the ship was lying at anchor in Esquimalt harbour when the affair occurred, the time chosen by the enemy was noon-day.
The captor was Mr. Robinson the Photographer, the only weapons he used in effecting his object were a Camera, a bit of glass." Alert was placed in the Steam Reserve. In 1874, Alert was taken in hand for conversion to the role of Arctic exploration, her single-expansion engine was replaced with an R & W Hawthorn compound-expansion engine, it was reboilered to 60 pounds per square inch, her armament was reduced to four guns and her hull was strengthened with felt-covered iron. Above the waterline it was sheathed with teak, below it, Canadian elm and pitch-pine; the modifications caused her displacement to increase to 1,240 tons. The British Arctic Expedition was commanded by Captain George Strong Nares, comprised Alert and Discovery; the expedition aimed to reach the North Pole via Smith Sound, the sea passage between Greenland and Canada's northernmost island, Ellesmere Island. Contemporary geographers proposed that there could be an Open Polar Sea, that if the thick layer of ice surrounding it were overcome, access to the North Pole by sea might be possible.
Since Edward Augustus Inglefield had penetrated Smith Sound in 1852, it had been a route to the North. Despite finding heavier-than-expected ice, the expedition pressed on. Leaving Discovery to winter at Lady Franklin Bay, Alert pressed on a further 50 nautical miles through the Robeson Channel, establishing her winter quarters at Floeberg Beach. Spring 1876 saw considerable activity by sledge, charting the coasts of Ellesmere Island and Greenland, but scurvy had begun to take hold, with Alert suffering the greatest burden. On 3 April the second-in-command of Alert, Albert Hastings Markham, took a party north to attempt the Pole. By 11 May, having made slow progress, they reached their greatest latitude at 83° 20' 26"N. Suffering from snow blindness and exhaustion, they turned back; the expedition was rewarded on its return. The geography of northern Canada and Greenland is dotted with the names of those connected with the expedition: Nares Strait, Nares Lake, Markham Ice Shelf, Ayles Ice Shelf, Mount Ayles.
The northernmost permanently inhabited place on earth, the settlement of Alert at the northern point of Ellesmere Island, was named for the ship. Alert recommissioned at Chatham on 20 August 1878 under the command of Captain Sir George Strong Nares for a survey of the Strait of Magellan. On 12 March 1879 Captain John Fiot Lee Pearse Maclear took command, under him she went to Australia Station and the Pacific, she was employed in surveying, but the presence of Doctor Richard Coppinger, her surgeon, ensured that she made a huge contribution to the field of zoology. Coppinger, who had served in the Arctic expedition, was an accomplished naturalist and his collections from the period 1878–1882, which included indigenous cultural artifacts purloined, as he admitted, from Mutumui sites on Clack Island, added 1,300 species to the National Collection. Alert paid off at Sheerness on 20 September 1882. Adolphus Greely led the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition to the Arctic in 1881. Two supply ships failed to reach his party, a relief expedition in 1883 failed to extract the team.
The US Navy put together a further relief expedition in 1884 under Captain W. S. Schley, Alert was offered, she was loaned to the US Navy und
The Ob River Ob', is a major river in western Siberia, is the world's seventh-longest river. It forms at the confluence of the Biya and Katun Rivers which have their origins in the Altay Mountains, it is the westernmost of the three great Siberian rivers. The Gulf of Ob is the world's longest estuary; the internationally known name of the river is based on the Russian name Обь. From Proto-Indo-Iranian *Hā́p-, "river, water". Katz proposes Komi ob'river' as the immediate source of derivation for the Russian name. Katz's proposal of a common Finno-Ugric root, loaned early on from a pre-Indo-Iranian source related to Sanskrit ambhas-'water' is deemed improbable by Rédei, who prefers to analyze this as a loan from a descendant of the non-nasal root form *Hā́p-; the Ob is known to the Khanty people as the As, Yag and Yema. The Ob forms 25 km southwest of Biysk in Altai Krai at the confluence of the Katun rivers. Both these streams have their origin in the Altay Mountains, the Biya issuing from Lake Teletskoye, the Katun, 700 kilometres long, bursting out of a glacier on Mount Byelukha.
The Ob's entire main course is within Russia, though its tributaries extend into Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The river splits into more than one arm after joining the large Irtysh tributary at about 69° E. From the source of the Irtysh to the mouth of the Ob, the river flow is the longest in Russia at 4,248 kilometers. Other noteworthy tributaries are: from the east, the Tom, Ket and Vakh rivers; the Ob zigzags west and north until it reaches 55° N, where it curves round to the northwest, again north, wheeling eastwards into the Gulf of Ob, a 1,000-kilometre-long bay of the Kara Sea, separating the Yamal Peninsula from the Gydan Peninsula. The combined Ob-Irtysh system, the fourth-longest river system of Asia, is 5,410 kilometres long, the area of its basin 2,990,000 square kilometres; the river basin of the Ob consists of steppe, swamps and semi-desert topography. The floodplains of the Ob are characterized by many lakes; the Ob is ice-bound at southern Barnaul from early in November to near the end of April, at northern Salekhard, 150 km above its mouth, from the end of October to the beginning of June.
The Ob River crosses several climatic zones. The upper Ob valley, in the south, grows grapes and watermelons, whereas the lower reaches of the Ob are Arctic tundra; the most comfortable climate for the rest on the Ob are Biysk and Novosibirsk. The Ob provides irrigation, drinking water, hydroelectric energy, fishing. There are several hydroelectric power plants along the Ob river, the largest being Novosibirskaya GES rated at 460 MW; the navigable waters within the Ob basin reach a total length of 15,000 km. The importance of navigation in the Ob basin for transportation was great before the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway, despite the general south-to-north direction of the flow of Ob and most of its tributaries, the width of the Ob basin provided for transportation in the east-west direction as well; until the early 20th century, a important western river-port was Tyumen, located on the Tura River, a tributary of the Tobol. Reached by an extension of the Ekaterinburg-Perm railway in 1885, thus obtaining a rail link to the Kama and Volga rivers in the heart of Russia, Tyumen became an important railhead for some years until the railway extended further east.
In the eastern reaches of the Ob basin, Tomsk on the Tom River functioned as an important terminus. Tyumen had its first steamboat in 1836, steamboats have navigated the middle reaches of the Ob since 1845; the first steamboat on the Ob, Nikita Myasnikov's Osnova, was launched in 1844. Steamboats started operating on the Yenisei on the Lena and Amur in the 1870s. In 1916 there were 49 steamers on the Ob. In an attempt to extend the Ob navigable system further, a system of canals, utilizing the Ket River, 900 km long in all, was built in the late 19th-century to connect the Ob with the Yenisei, but soon abandoned as being uncompetitive with the railway; the Trans-Siberian Railway, once completed, provided for more direct, year-round transportation in the east-west direction. But the Ob river-system still remained important for connecting the huge expanses of Tyumen Oblast and Tomsk Oblast with the major cities along the Trans-Siberian route, such as Novosibirsk or Omsk. In the second half of the 20th century, construction of rail links to Labytnangi and the oil and gas cities of Surgut, Nizhnevartovsk provided more railheads, but did not diminish the importance of the waterways for reaching places still not served by the rail.
A dam built near Novosibirsk in 1956 created the then-largest artificial lake in Siberia, called Novosibirsk Reservoir. From the 1960s through 1980s, Soviet engineers and administrators contempl
Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia. Siberia has been a part of modern Russia since the 17th century; the territory of Siberia extends eastwards from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific and Arctic drainage basins. The Yenisei River conditionally divides Siberia into two parts and Eastern. Siberia stretches southwards from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan and to the national borders of Mongolia and China. With an area of 13.1 million square kilometres, Siberia accounts for 77% of Russia's land area, but it is home to 36 million people—27% of the country's population. This is equivalent to an average population density of about 3 inhabitants per square kilometre, making Siberia one of the most sparsely populated regions on Earth. If it were a country by itself, it would still be the largest country in area, but in population it would be the world's 35th-largest and Asia's 14th-largest. Worldwide, Siberia is well known for its long, harsh winters, with a January average of −25 °C, as well as its extensive history of use by Russian and Soviet administrations as a place for prisons, labor camps, exile.
The origin of the name is unknown. Some sources say that "Siberia" originates from the Siberian Tatar word for "sleeping land". Another account sees the name as the ancient tribal ethnonym of the Sirtya, an ethnic group which spoke a Paleosiberian language; the Sirtya people were assimilated into the Siberian Tatars. The modern usage of the name was recorded in the Russian language after the Empire's conquest of the Siberian Khanate. A further variant claims; the Polish historian Chyliczkowski has proposed that the name derives from the proto-Slavic word for "north", but Anatole Baikaloff has dismissed this explanation. He said that the neighbouring Chinese and Mongolians, who have similar names for the region, would not have known Russian, he suggests that the name might be a combination of two words with Turkic origin, "su" and "bir". The region has paleontological significance, as it contains bodies of prehistoric animals from the Pleistocene Epoch, preserved in ice or in permafrost. Specimens of Goldfuss cave lion cubs and another woolly mammoth from Oymyakon, a woolly rhinoceros from the Kolyma River, bison and horses from Yukagir have been found.
The Siberian Traps were formed by one of the largest-known volcanic events of the last 500 million years of Earth's geological history. Their activity continued for a million years and some scientists consider it a possible cause of the "Great Dying" about 250 million years ago, – estimated to have killed 90% of species existing at the time. At least three species of human lived in Southern Siberia around 40,000 years ago: H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis, the Denisovans. In 2010 DNA evidence identified the last as a separate species. Siberia was inhabited by different groups of nomads such as the Enets, the Nenets, the Huns, the Scythians and the Uyghurs; the Khan of Sibir in the vicinity of modern Tobolsk was known as a prominent figure who endorsed Kubrat as Khagan of Old Great Bulgaria in 630. The Mongols conquered a large part of this area early in the 13th century. With the breakup of the Golden Horde, the autonomous Khanate of Sibir was established in the late 15th century. Turkic-speaking Yakut migrated north from the Lake Baikal region under pressure from the Mongol tribes during the 13th to 15th century.
Siberia remained a sparsely populated area. Historian John F. Richards wrote: "... it is doubtful that the total early modern Siberian population exceeded 300,000 persons."The growing power of Russia in the West began to undermine the Siberian Khanate in the 16th century. First, groups of traders and Cossacks began to enter the area; the Russian Army was directed to establish forts farther and farther east to protect new settlers from European Russia. Towns such as Mangazeya, Tara and Tobolsk were developed, the last being declared the capital of Siberia. At this time, Sibir was the name of a fortress at Qashlik, near Tobolsk. Gerardus Mercator, in a map published in 1595, marks Sibier both as the name of a settlement and of the surrounding territory along a left tributary of the Ob. Other sources contend that the Xibe, an indigenous Tungusic people, offered fierce resistance to Russian expansion beyond the Urals; some suggest. By the mid-17th century, Russia had established areas of control; some 230,000 Russians had settled in Siberia by 1709.
Siberia was a destination for sending exiles. The first great modern change in Siberia was the Trans-Siberian Railway, constructed during 1891–1916, it linked Siberia more to the industrialising Russia of Nicholas II. Around seven million people moved to Siberia from European Russia between 1801 and 1914. From 1859 to 1917, more than half a million people migrated to the Russian Far East. Siberia has extensive natural resources. During the 20th century, large-scale exploitation of these was developed, industrial towns cropped up throughout the region. At 7:15 a.m. on 30 June 1908, millions of trees were felled near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in central Siberia in the Tunguska Event. Most scientists believe this resulted from the air burst of a comet. Though no crater has been found, the landscape in the area still bears the scars of this event. In the early decades of the Soviet Union (
Willem Barentsz was a Dutch navigator and Arctic explorer. He went on three expeditions to the far north in search for a Northeast passage. During his third expedition, the crew was stranded on Novaya Zemlya for a year. Barentsz died on the return voyage in 1597. In the 19th century, the Barents Sea was named after him. Willem Barentsz was born around 1550 on the island Terschelling in the Seventeen Provinces, present-day Netherlands. Barentsz was not his surname but rather his patronymic name, short for Barentszoon "Barent's son". A cartographer by trade, Barentsz sailed to Spain and the Mediterranean to complete an atlas of the Mediterranean region, which he co-published with Petrus Plancius, his career as an explorer was spent searching for the Northeast passage, which he reasoned must exist as clear, open water north of Siberia since the sun shone 24 hours a day, which he believed would have melted any potential ice. On 5 June 1594, Barentsz left the island of Texel aboard the small ship Mercury, as part of a group of three ships sent out in separate directions to try to enter the Kara Sea, with the hopes of finding the Northeast passage above Siberia.
Between 23 and 29 June, Barentsz stayed at Kildin Island. On 9 July, the crew encountered a polar bear for the first time. After shooting it with a musket when it tried to climb aboard the ship, the seamen decided to capture it with the hope of bringing it back to Holland. Once leashed and brought aboard the ship however, the bear had to be killed; this occurred in Williams Island. Upon discovering the Orange Islands, the crew came across a herd of 200 walruses and tried to kill them with hatchets and pikes. Finding the task more difficult than they imagined, they left with only a few ivory tusks. Barentsz reached the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, followed it northward before being forced to turn back in the face of large icebergs. Although they did not reach their ultimate goal, the trip was considered a success; the following year, Prince Maurice of Orange was filled with "the most exaggerated hopes" on hearing of Barentsz' previous voyage, named him chief pilot and conductor of a new expedition, accompanied by six ships loaded with merchant wares that the Dutch hoped to trade with China.
Setting out on 2 June 1595, the voyage went between Vaygach Island. On 30 August, the party came across 20 Samoyed "wild men" with whom they were able to speak, due to a crewmember speaking their language. 4 September saw a small crew sent to States Island to search for a type of crystal, noticed earlier. The party was attacked by a polar bear, two sailors were killed; the expedition turned back upon discovering that unexpected weather had left the Kara Sea frozen. This expedition was considered to be a failure. In 1596, disappointed by the failure of previous expeditions, the States-General announced they would no longer subsidize similar voyages – but instead offered a high reward for anybody who navigated the Northeast Passage; the Town Council of Amsterdam purchased and outfitted two small ships, captained by Jan Rijp and Jacob van Heemskerk, to search for the elusive channel under the command of Barentsz. They set off on 10 May or 15 May, on 9 June discovered Bear Island, they discovered Spitsbergen on 17 June.
On 20 June they saw the entrance of a large bay called Raudfjorden. On 21 June they anchored between Cloven Cliff and Vogelsang, where they "set up a post with the arms of the Dutch upon it." On 25 June they entered Magdalenefjorden, which they named Tusk Bay, in light of the walrus tusks they found there. The following day, 26 June, they sailed into the northern entrance of Forlandsundet, but were forced to turn back because of a shoal, which led them to call the fjord Keerwyck. On 28 June they rounded the northern point of Prins Karls Forland, which they named Vogelhoek, on account of the large number of birds they saw there, they sailed south, passing Isfjorden and Bellsund, which were labelled on Barentsz's chart as Grooten Inwyck and Inwyck. The ships once again found themselves at Bear Island on 1 July, which led to a disagreement between Barentsz and Van Heemskerk on one side and Rijp on the other, they agreed with Barentsz continuing northeast, while Rijp headed due north. Barentsz reached Novaya Zemlya on 17 July.
Anxious to avoid becoming entrapped in the surrounding ice, he intended to head for the Vaigatch Strait, but became stuck within the many icebergs and floes. Stranded, the 16-man crew was forced to spend the winter on the ice, along with their young cabin boy. After a failed attempt to melt the permafrost, the crew used lumber from their ship to build a 7.8×5.5 metre lodge they called Het Behouden Huys. Dealing with extreme cold, the crew realised that their socks would burn before their feet could feel the warmth of a fire – and took to sleeping with warmed stones and cannonballs. In addition, they used the merchant fabrics aboard the ship to make additional blankets and clothing; the ship bore salted beef, cheese, barley, beans, flour, vinegar, salt, wine, hardtack, smoked bacon and fish. Much of the beer froze. By 8 November Gerrit de Veer, the ships carpenter who kept a diary, reported a shortage of beer and bread, with wine being rationed four days later. In January 1597, De Veer became the first person to witness and record the atmospheric anomaly known as the Novaya Zemlya effect.
Proving successful at hunting, the group caught 26 Arctic foxes in primiti