HENRYK ARCTOWSKI - Patron of Polar Antarctic Station

 

 

 


 

 Henryk Arctowski was born in Warsaw, Poland, on 15th July, 1871. He started university studies in Geology and Chemistry at Liege (Belgium) and then in France at the Sorbonne, Paris.

In 1895 he contacted Adrian de Gerlache de Gomery, organizer of the Belgica Antarctic Expedition, and was appointed scientific vice-director. Another Pole, Antoni Dobrowolski, also participated in this expedition which lasted form 1897 to 1899. It was the first expedition to winter in the Antarctic.

 Scientific work providing much valuable data in many disciplines was carried out as the trapped vessel drifted in the sea-ice. In addition to observations of sea-ice formation and types of ice-bergs, Arctowski obtained a full year's cycle of meteorological observations. As oceanographer he prepared a bathymetric map from soundings he made during the ship's drift. His name has been given to ,,Arctowski's Halo" a phenomenon in which light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere, producing a halo resembling a rainbow, with two other partial arcs symmetrical to the main one around the sun.

On completing the expedition, Arctowski took employment at the Observatoire Royal de Belgique in Uccle, where he worked on materials collected during the Belgica cruise. Within the field of Geology he went on to confirm his own so-called "Antarktand" hypothesis involving the analogy between the formation of the South Andes (par­ticularly Tierra del Fuego) and the Graham Land Peninsula of the Antarctic continent. With respect to glaciology, he also found that the snow boundary has risen by 800 m sin­ce the last glacial maximum, according to his observations in the Beagle Channel. Apart from research work, he also delivered many lectures. During a stay in London he made the acquaintance of Adrian Jane Addy, an American singer, whom he later married. In the summer of 1910 he participated as chief scientist in an expedition to Spitsbergen and the Lofoten Islands on the vessel Ile-de-France. After his return he organized the na­tural sciences division at the New York Public Library, where between 1911 and 1919 he held the post of division director.

In 1920 Arctowski returned to Poland where the then Prime Minister, Ignacy Paderewski, offered him the position of Education Minister. In order to continue his scienti­fic work, however, he declined this offer and instead took the chair of Geophysics and Meteorology at the Jan Kazimierz Univer­sity in Lvov, which in 1912 had confer­red on him the degree of Doctor honoris causa. With his co-workers in Lvov he published 133 papers in the institute's journal.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 Arctowski was in Washington, participating in the Congress of the International Geo­detic-Geophysical Union as President of the International Commission of Climatic Changes. Return to Poland was impossi­ble, and he accepted a position at the Smithsonian Institute. His first scientific success in this institute was to demonstrate a position correlation between 24 hour changes in the solar constant and sunspot areas based on material collected between 1926 and 1930. In 1950 he gave up work at the Smithsonian because of ill health, but he continued rese­arch work. He died in Washington on the 21st of February, 1958, never having returned to Poland.

In recognition of the work of Henryk Arctowski and his contribution to science, his name has been given to a number of geographical features:

 
 In Antarctica:            In Spitsbergen:
Arctowski Peninsula    Arctowskifjellet  (Mt. Arctowski)
Arctowski Nunataks   Arctowskibreen  (Arctowski glacier)
Arctowski Peak