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Alidade An alidade (or sighting rule) is a device that lets you look at a far away object through two 'sights' to measure an angle or a distance. Often used in map making.
Altitude Sickness In the same way as your body does not cope with diving too deep, too quickly, the change in air pressure and oxygen content in the mountains can lead to sickness as the body cannot take in enough oxygen. Severe cases can cause fluid to build on the brain, which may be fatal.
Amputation Severe cases of frostbite may damage a finger, arm or leg so much that it needs to be cut off, or amputated, to save the rest of the body.
Antarctic The Antarctic, or Antarctica, is the most southern continent of the world. The harsh region is home to the South Pole and surrounded by the Southern Ocean. Not to be confused with the Arctic, on the other side of the world.
Artefact An important historical, man-made object that is key to retelling an important story, such as a sledge from a Polar expedition.
Austral Summer The summer in Antarctica.
Autopsy When a dead body (of a person or animal) is cut apart to investigate the causes of death.


Balaclava A woolly hat that covers the entire head, with only small nose holes for breathing and eye holes to see through. The balaclava is an essential on Polar expeditions to protect the face and airways.


Contaminated Whenever two substances come together that should not be combined, mostly leading to harmful results. Contaminated food has come into contact with something that will make it go bad.
Crevasse A deep crack in a glacier - many adventurers have lost their life by falling into a crevasse.


Depot Storage site.
Dysentery A serious illness that causes diarrhoea with blood and severe stomach pains. Dysentery can be caused by eating contaminated food and can be fatal.




Frostbite Frostbite is when skin and other tissues are damaged by freezing temperatures. Frostbite can cause lasting damage and may lead to amputations.


Geological Survey A study of the rocks on and below the ground in a certain area.
Glacier A large body of ice, formed from compressed snow over many years. Glaciers represent about 10 percent of the world's land mass.


Hoosh A thick stew made from pemmican and thickener, e.g. biscuits or dried bread, and water. It did not taste good, but gave the Polar explorers the vital energy (and warmth) they needed.


Ice Floe A large floating pack of ice. An ice floe might be so big that you do not know you are on one; but it might break up and drift away as well.








Magnetic South Pole Unlike the geographic South Pole, the magnetic South Pole is another way of measuring the 'bottom of the world'. It is the point at which are lines of magnetic force meet, and is currently nearly 2,000 miles from the geographic South Pole, off the coast of Antarctica.


Nansen Cooker An efficient way of cooking food and melting snow for water. The cooker consisted of a number of compartments that made the best use of heat from the stove. In this way the cooker provided four benefits: a hot meal, hot water, a hot surface to keep drinks warm, and heating the tent.
Navigation Finding your way around, whether using a map, compass, alidade or sextant.


Overwinter Polar explorers did not exactly hibernate, but when they overwintered, this meant that they were extremely limited in their activities by the harsh Polar winter, rarely venturing outside and certainly not able to return home.


Pack Ice Floating bits of ice that have been forced together to form one large pack of ice.
Pemmican A mixture of ground beef and lard, usually heated with water in a stew and eaten with biscuits. One box would provide a day's food supply for one man. It provided the main food source in the field for the 1910-1913 Terra Nova Expedition.
Polar Plateau The flat, large plain which spans most of central Antarctica, spanning over 600 miles and including the South Pole.
Primus Stove This camping stove was used by the Terra Nova and later expeditions. Fuelled by kerosene, its design provided heat to simultaneously heat food and melt snow for drinking water. The primus was 6 times more fuel efficient than previous models of stove reducing the amounts of fuel that needed to be carried. Modern camping stoves have changed little since.
Pseudonym A pen-name which people use when they do not want others to know who has written a text, perhaps because they are being rude about someone or something.




Rations When food is in short supply, it must be rationed. This means that a limit is fixed for how much a person can eat or drink of a certain item on any given day.
Rookery A rookery is the name given to a colony of nesting birds.


Sastrugi Hard ridges of ice and snow.
Scurvy A disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, often due to a lack of fruit and vegetables, so sailors and explorers were particularly prone to scurvy. If untreated, you can die from the sores and wounds that you get, so it was a particularly serious disease for the Polar explorers.
Sextant Sailors used a sextant to measure the angle of the sun against the horizon, with watches used to record the time of day. Using mathematics and charts a route could then be plotted.
Snow Blindness All skiers wear goggles to limit the amount of UV rays that can get into the eye. This is to avoid snow blindness, when sunlight reflected from the snow causes temporary blindness. In Polar regions, this can lead to permanent damage to the eyes if protection is not worn.
Snow Knife A snow knife is used to cut snow into the blocks needed to make snow houses, or igloos, or to cut up blocks of ice for melting into water.
South Pole The geographic South Pole is the point at the bottom of the globe at which the world rotates. In the heart of Antarctica; not to be confused with the North Pole, on the other side of the world.
Summit The highest point of a hill, mountain, or glacier.