Kevin Fong looks beyond the failure of Robert Falcon Scott's expedition to be the first to reach the South Pole and focuses instead on the scientific legacy of Scott's explorations of Antarctica between 1901 and 1912.
In recent years, much has been written about Scott the polar loser and bungler. But that personalised focus ignores the pioneering scientific research and discoveries. The revelations transformed Antarctica from an unknown quantity on the map into a profoundly important continent in the Earth's past and present.
Before Scott and Shackleton trekked across the vast ice sheets in the early 1900s, no-one was sure whether there was even a continent there. Some geographers had suggested Antarctica was merely a vast raft of ice anchored to a scattering of islands. The science teams on Scott’s expeditions made fundamental discoveries about Antarctic weather and began to realise the frozen continent's fundamental role in global climate and ocean circulation. They discovered ro
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