Biography: Captain Finn Ronne

Captain Finn Ronne   Finn Ronne was born 20 December 1899 in Horten, Norway. His father, Martin Ronne, was a polar explorer and served in Roald Amundsen's successful expedition to the South Pole. It may have been his father's influence that inspired Finn Ronne to spend years of his life mapping and exploring Antarctica.

In 1923 Captain Ronne immigrated to the United States and gained U.S. citizenship in 1929. As a proficient athlete, naval architect and engineer, Ronne took part in two of Richard E. Byrd's expeditions to the South Pole, and in 1939 Ronne served as Byrd's executive officer helping discover one thousand miles of new coastline.

After serving several years in the United States Navy, Ronne returned to Antarctica in the 1940's, with support of the American Geographical Society. Mapping and exploring the Weddell Sea coastline Ronne set a number of polar records. Ronne covered 3,600 miles by ski and dog sled--more than any other explorer in history. Mrs. Edith Ronne accompanied her husband on the Ronne expedition and served as research scientist and journalist. Mrs. Ronne, along with the chief pilot's wife were the first women to winter over in Antarctica.

World attention focused on Antarctica in the 1950s. The Navy organized Operation Deepfreeze to complete the mapping of Antarctica and establish centers for scientific research. Ronne, recognized for his expertise in Antarctica, was asked to be scientific and military leader for a United States Weddell Sea base. He thus became the only leader of U.S. bases in the Antarctic in command of both the scientific and military personnel.

Finn Ronne died in 1980. During his lifetime he wrote several books on Antarctica and left a legacy of outstanding Antarctic research. He received three Medals of Honor and numerous military awards for service, for geographical exploration and for the advancement of science.


Something to Think About:

1. Finn Ronne was an important explorer. He was also an immigrant from Norway. How do you think his experiences in Norway helped him as a polar explorer?

2. Brainstorm! What sort of scientific experiments can you do in very cold weather? What does a scientist need to have in order to study in a freezing environment?

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