South! by Sir Ernest Shackleton


By J. M. WORDIE, M.A. (Cantab.), Lieut. R.F.A.

During the voyage of the Endurance it was soon noticed that the terms being used to describe different forms of ice were not always in agreement with those given in Markham's and Mill's glossary in "The Antarctic Manual," 1901. It was the custom, of course, to follow implicitly the terminology used by those of the party whose experience of ice dated back to Captain Scott's first voyage, so that the terms used may be said to be common to all Antarctic voyages of the present century. The principal changes, therefore, in nomenclature must date from the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when there was no one to pass on the traditional usage from the last naval Arctic Expedition in 1875 to the Discovery Expedition of 1901. On the latter ship Markham's and Mill's glossary was, of course, used, but apparently not slavishly; founded, as far as sea-ice went, on Scoresby's, made in 1820, it might well have been adopted in its entirety, for no writer could have carried more weight than Scoresby the younger, combining as he did more than ten years' whaling experience with high scientific attainments. Above all others he could be accepted both by practical seamen and also by students of ice forms.

That the old terms of Scoresby did not all survive the period of indifference to Polar work, in spite of Markham and Mill, is an indication either that their usefulness has ceased or that the original usage has changed once and for all. A restatement of terms is therefore now necessary. Where possible the actual phrases of Scoresby and of his successors, Markham and Mill, are still used. The principle adopted, however, is to give preference to the words actually used by the Polar seamen themselves.

The following authorities have been followed as closely as possible:

W. Scoresby, Jun., "An Account of the Arctic Regions," 1820, vol. i, pp. 225–233, 238–241.

C. R. Markham and H. R. Mill in "The Antarctic Manual," 1901, pp, xiv–xvi.

J. Payer, "New Lands within the Arctic Circle," 1876, vol. i, pp. 3–14.

W. S. Bruce, "Polar Exploration" in Home University Library, c. 1911, pp. 54–71.

Reference should also be made to the annual publication of the Danish Meteorological Institute showing the Arctic ice conditions of the previous summer. This is published in both Danish and English, so that the terms used there are bound to have a very wide acceptance; it is hoped, therefore, that they may be the means of preventing the Antarctic terminology following a different line of evolution; for but seldom is a seaman found nowadays who knows both Polar regions. On the Danish charts six different kinds of sea-ice are marked—namely, unbroken polar ice; land-floe; great ice-fields; tight pack-ice; open ice; bay-ice and brash. With the exception of bay-ice, which is more generally known as young ice, all these terms pass current in the Antarctic.

Slush or Sludge. The initial stages in the freezing of sea-water, when its consistency becomes gluey or soupy. The term is also used (but not commonly) for brash-ice still further broken down.

Pancake-ice. Small circular floes with raised rims; due to the break-up in a gently ruffled sea of the newly formed ice into pieces which strike against each other, and so form turned-up edges.

Young Ice. Applied to all unhummocked ice up to about a foot in thickness. Owing to the fibrous or platy structure, the floes crack easily, and where the ice is not over thick a ship under steam cuts a passage without much difficulty. Young ice may originate from the coalescence of "pancakes," where the water is slightly ruffled or else be a sheet of "black ice," covered maybe with "ice-flowers," formed by the freezing of a smooth sheet of sea-water.

In the Arctic it has been the custom to call this form of ice "bay-ice"; in the Antarctic, however, the latter term is wrongly used for land-floes (fast-ice, etc.), and has been so misapplied consistently for fifteen years. The term bay-ice should possibly, therefore, be dropped altogether, especially since, even in the Arctic, its meaning is not altogether a rigid one, as it may denote firstly the gluey "slush," which forms when sea-water freezes, and secondly the firm level sheet ultimately produced.

Land floes. Heavy but not necessarily hummocked ice, with generally a deep snow covering, which has remained held up in the position of growth by the enclosing nature of some feature of the coast, or by grounded bergs throughout the summer season when most of the ice breaks out. Its thickness is, therefore, above the average. Has been called at various times "fast-ice," "coast-ice," "land-ice," "bay-ice" by Shackleton and David and the Charcot Expedition; and possibly what Drygalski calls Schelfeis is not very different.

Floe. An area of ice, level or hummocked, whose limits are within sight. Includes all sizes between brash on the one hand and fields on the other. "Light-floes" are between one and two feet in thickness (anything thinner being "young-ice"). Those exceeding two feet in thickness are termed "heavy floes," being generally hummocked, and in the Antarctic, at any rate, covered by fairly deep snow.

Field. A sheet of ice of such extent that its limits cannot be seen from the masthead.

Hummocking. Includes all the processes of pressure formation whereby level young ice becomes broken up and built up into

Hummocky Floes. The most suitable term for what has also been called "old pack" and "screwed pack" by David and Scholleneis by German writers. In contrast to young ice, the structure is no longer fibrous, but becomes spotted or bubbly, a certain percentage of salt drains away, and the ice becomes almost translucent.

The Pack is a term very often used in a wide sense to include any area of sea-ice, no matter what form it takes or how disposed. The French term is banquise de derive.

Pack-ice. A more restricted use than the above, to include hummocky floes or close areas of young ice and light floes. Pack-ice is "close" or "tight" if the floes constituting it are in contact; "open" if, for the most part, they do not touch. In both cases it hinders, but does not necessarily check, navigation; the contrary holds for

Drift-ice. Loose open ice, where the area of water exceeds that of ice. Generally drift-ice is within reach of the swell, and is a stage in the breaking down of pack-ice, the size of the floes being much smaller than in the latter. (Scoresby's use of the term drift-ice for pieces of ice intermediate in size between floes and brash has, however, quite died out). The Antarctic or Arctic pack usually has a girdle or fringe of drift-ice.

Brash. Small fragments and roundish nodules; the wreck of other kinds of ice.

Bergy Bits. Pieces, about the size of a cottage, of glacier-ice or of hummocky pack washed clear of snow.

Growlers. Still smaller pieces of sea-ice than the above, greenish in colour, and barely showing above water-level.

Crack. Any sort of fracture or rift in the sea-ice covering.

Lead or Lane. Where a crack opens out to such a width as to be navigable. In the Antarctic it is customary to speak of these as leads, even when frozen over to constitute areas of young ice.

Pools. Any enclosed water areas in the pack, where length and breadth are about equal.