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Ross, Sir James Clark

magnetic north arctic expedition

(1800–62) British polar explorer: located the north magnetic pole and explored the Antarctic Ocean.

Entering the Royal Navy when he was 12, James Ross served under his uncle John Ross in surveys of the White Sea and the Arctic, and later with W E Parry (1790–1855) in four attempts in the 1820s to reach the North Pole over the ice. From 1829–33 he was with his uncle on a private expedition (financed by the distiller F Booth) to explore the Arctic, and in 1831 he located the north magnetic pole. Back in the Navy as a captain from 1834, his expertise in magnetic measurement led to him being employed by the Admiralty in 1838 to make a magnetic survey (declination and dip) of the UK, and the next year to command an expedition to the Antarctic. This voyage lasted four years; he discovered Victoria Land, the 4000 m/13 000 ft volcano he named Mount Erebus, and ‘the marvellous range of ice cliffs barring the approach to the Pole’. When he returned he had made the greatest survey of its kind, covering magnetic, geological and meteorological observations and studies of marine life at great depths; and only one man had been lost through illness, largely because Ross ensured good supplies of a mixed diet. In 1848 he commanded his last expedition, searching for the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin (1786–1847), who had disappeared looking for the North-west Passage; he found no trace of Franklin, but new observations were made. He left the Navy with the rank of rear admiral.

Ross, Sir Ronald [next] [back] Ross, John (1563–1607) - BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL RECEPTION

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