2008 Signing

2008 Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe Signing Ceremony, 12 February 2008, Newark, Deleware: AGS Executive Director, Mary Lynne Bird steadies the Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe as Captain Lawson W. Brigham, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.) signs it.

Captain Lawson W. Brigham, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), signed the AGS Flier’s and Explorers’ Globe on February 12, 2008. The event took place on the campus of the University of Delaware in Newark, DE.

The signing of the AGS Globe launched the W. S. Carlson International Polar Year Events, a year-long series of public lectures, seminars, exhibits, films, and other events held at the University of Delaware to celebrate the fourth International Polar Year. AGS and UD were partners in the series, which took place throughout 2008. The series was named for William Samuel Carlson, UD’s 20th President (1946-50), who participated in numerous scientific expeditions to Greenland and helped develop several important air transport routes in the Arctic for the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.

The February 12 ceremony commemorated the epic voyage of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea to the polar limits of the global ocean, under the command of Captain Brigham. In 1994 Brigham took Polar Sea from the Ross Ice Shelf off Antarctica (the southern limit of navigation) to the Arctic Ocean, passing through the North Pole to Svalbard, then circumnavigating North America and Greenland. This spectacular journey also involved considerable scientific accomplishments. The AGS publication FOCUS on Geography featured an article, “The Age of Cryopolitics,” that contains photos of Polar Sea and other U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers.

It was particularly appropriate that Brigham’s signing occurred during the International Polar Year 2007-2009. More than 30 of the Globe’s signers, including Roald Amundsen, Louise Boyd, Laurence Gould, Matthew Henson, Fridtjof Nansen, Robert Peary, Richard Byrd, and Sir Hubert Wilkins, were previously honored for their accomplishments in the polar regions.

The American Geographical Society has a long and illustrious record of accomplishment in exploration, scientific investigation, and mapping in the polar regions. AGS sponsored, or was associated with, many voyages of polar exploration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, beginning with Elisha Kent Kane’s 1853-55 expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. Many AGS medals have been awarded for exploration firsts and scientific accomplishments in the polar regions. Scientific results from polar expeditions are ubiquitous in the pages of the Geographical Review and its predecessor journals. The Society’s Map of the Arctic Region and its Antarctic Folio Series are only two examples of its many major contributions to the mapping sciences in Antarctica and the Arctic. The Society’s former building in New York was home to the U.S. branch of the Arctic Institute of North America during the Institute’s early years. The World Data Center for Glaciology was housed in the AGS building for many years, under the direction of William O. Field.

The February 12 ceremony also featured an illustrated talk by Captain Brigham, describing his 1994 voyage. Brigham was introduced by AGS President Jerome Dobson, AGS Councilor John Noble Wilford of The New York Times, and a previous signer, Dr. Don Walsh, who holds the world record for diving to the deepest point in the world ocean.

Further information can be found at http://www.udel.edu/research/polar/events.html.