AMUNDSEN, ROALD, a polar ex plorer, born at Borge, Norway, July 16, 1872, He studied medicine for two years in the University of Christiania. The call of the sea, however, made itself felt, and he became a member of the Nor wegian navy. His first seagoing expe rience dates from 1893. Four years later he was made first officer of one of the vessels of the South Polar expedition.
This cruise covered the period 1897-1899, and determined his future career. In 1903 he undertook an expedition in a small vessel, the "Gjoa," with the design of relocating the magnetic North Pole. For more than a year and a half he sur veyed an extensive district in the regions about the Pole, and gathered data which proved invaluable to him in his subse quent work. He was the first man to thread the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. On Aug. 13, 1905, he reached Herschel Island. His desire to discover the Pole remained unabated, and he was planning an expedition with this in view, when Peary's discovery of the Pole was announced to the world. There remained, however, the field of Antarctic exploration, and he determined if possible to rival Peary's discovery by reaching the South Pole. When he started out, it was generally believed that he was aiming for the Arctic, and it was only when his vessel reached Ma deira that he disclosed the real goal of his expedition. He reached the Bay of Whales on Jan. 14, 1911. Nearly a year was spent at this base, before he was ready to make the final dash for the South Pole. When at last his prepara tions were completed in October, 1911, he took four companions and started for the Pole, which he reached Dec. 16, 1911. Had he waited a month longer, the lau rels of the discovery would have fallen to his English competitor, Captain Scott. While Amundsen was favored by weather conditions, this detracted no whit from the greatness of his achievement, which called into play all his native qualities of daring and persistence. The story of his adventures was told in lectures after his return, and embodied in a book, en titled "The South Pole" (1912).
Shortly afterward he planned a trip to the Arctic regions, and the project was well under way, $40,000 having been ap propriated by the Norwegian Govern ment for the purpose, when the outbreak of the World War made a postponement necessary. On June 28, 1918, Amundsen,
with a crew of eight men and carrying with him two airplanes, set sail on the "Maude" from Christiania for the Arctic Circle. On Sept. 1 he took on oil and supplies at Dixon Island in the White Sea, north of Russia, and sailed northeast. He then pushed east along the north coast of Siberia, until his ship became embedded in the ice floes. This was what he desired, for he believed that the ship would be carried by the floes around the northern end of Nova Zembla and from there to the Liakoff Islands on the northern coast of Siberia. From that time no word of the expedition came from the Arctic silences until March 25, 1920. Then a wireless message from Amundsen was picked up at Cordova, Alaska, from the radio station on St. Paul's Island, which reported that the expedition was icebound in the Kolyma river. No details were given as to the experiences or discoveries of the party, but it was gathered that the attempt to sail farther north had been abandoned, and that Amundsen was contemplating a return to the United States. It was understood that the object of his expedi tion had been not to reach the North Pole, but to explore the deep sea that covered the polar circle, to take sound ings to determine the shape of the bot tom, the temperature and direction of the winds, and other meteorological data. See ARCTIC AND ANTARCTIC EXPLORATIONS.
AMUR (am-or'), a river formed by the junction (about 53° N. lat., and 121° E. long.) of the Shilka and the Argun, which both come from the S. W.—the former rising in the foothills of the Yablonoi Mountains. From the junction, the river flows first from S. E. and then N. E., and, after a total course of 2,600 miles, falls into the Sea of Okhotsk, op posite the island of Sakhalin. Its main tributaries are the Sungari and the Us suri, both from the S. Above the Ussuri, the Amur is the boundary between Si beria and Manchuria; below it the river runs through Russian territory. It is very valuable for navigation, and carries a considerable fleet of steamers. The river is frozen for six months of the year; in summer there are extensive in undations.