Appendix IV: Glossary

The Home of the Blizzard by Sir Douglas Mawson (1915)

Appendix IV: Glossary

Oceanography
The study of the ocean, including the shape and character of its bed, the temperature and salinity of the water at various depths, the force and set of its currents, and the nature of the creatures and plants which haunt its successive zones.
Névé
The compacted snow of a snow field; a stage in the transition between soft, loose snow and glacier ice.
Sastrugi
The waves caused by continuous winds blowing across the surface of an expanse of snow. These waves vary in size according to the force and continuity of the wind and the compactness of the snow. The word is of Russian derivation (from zastruga [singular], zastrugi [plural] ), denoting snow waves or the irregularities on the surface of roughly planed wood.
Ice foot
A sheath of ice adhering along the shores of polar lands. The formation may be composed of attached remnants of floe ice, frozen sea spray and drift snow.
Nunatak
An island–like outcrop of rock projecting through a sheet of enveloping land ice.
Shelf ice
A thick, floating, fresh water ice formation pushing out from the land and continuous with an extensive glacier. Narrow prolongations or peninsulas of the shelf ice may be referred to as ice tongues or glacier tongues.
Barrier
A term which has been rather loosely applied in the literature of Antarctic exploration. Formerly it was used to describe a formation, which is mainly shelf ice, known as the Great Ross Barrier. Confusion arose when ‘Barrier’ came to be applied to the seaward ice cliff (resting on rock) of an extensive sheet of land ice and when it was also employed to designate a line of consolidated pack ice. Spelt with a small ‘b’ the term is a convenient one, so long as it carries its ordinary meaning; it seems unnecessary to give it a technical connotation.
Blizzard
A high wind at a low temperature, accompanied by drifting, not necessarily falling snow.
Floe or Floe ice
The comparatively flat, frozen surface of the sea intersected by cracks and leads (channels of open water).
Pack or Pack ice
A field of loose ice originating in the main from broken floe, to which may be added material from the disintegration of bergs, and bergs themselves.
Brash or Brash ice
Small, floating fragments of ice – the debris of larger pieces – usually observed bordering a tract of pack ice.
Bergschrund
This has been ‘freely rendered’ in the description of the great cleft between the lower part of the Denman Glacier and the Shackleton Ice Shelf (Queen Mary Land).
[In a typical glacier] the upper portion is hidden by névé and often by freshly fallen snow and is smooth and unbroken. During the summer, when little snow falls, the body of the glacier moves away from the snow field and a gaping crevasse of great depth is usually established, called a “Bergschrund”, which is sometimes taken as the upper limit of the glacier. – Encyclopaedia Britannica
Subantarctic
A general term used to denote the area of ocean, containing islands and encircling the Antarctic continent, between the vicinity of the 50th parallel of south latitude and the confines of the ice–covered sea.
Séracs
Wedged masses of icy pinnacles which are produced in the surface of a glacier by dragging strains which operate on crevassed areas. A field of such pinnacles, jammed together in broken confusion, is called sérac ice.

The following colloquial words or phrases occurring in the narrative were largely determined by general usage:

To depot
To cache or to place a stock of provisions in a depot
Drift
Drift snow
Fifty–mile wind
A wind of fifty miles an hour
Burberry
‘Burberry gabardine’ or specially prepared windproof clothing
Whirly (plural whirlies)
Whirlwind carrying drift snow and pursuing a devious track
Nightwatchman
Nightwatch
Glaxo
‘Glaxo’ (a powder of dried milk)
Primus
Primus stove used during sledging
Hoosh
Pemmican and plasmon biscuit porridge
Tanks
Canvas bags for holding sledging provisions
Boil–up
Sledging meal
Ramp
Bank of snow slanting away obliquely on the leeward side of an obstacle
Radiant
An appearance noted in clouds (especially cirro–stratus) which seem to radiate from a point on the horizon.

The following appended list may be of biological interest:

Birds (Aves)

  • Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri)
  • King penguin (Aptenodytes patagonica)
  • Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae)
  • Royal penguin (Catarrhactes schlegeli)
  • Victoria penguin (Catarrhactes pachyrynchus)
  • Gentoo or rockhopper penguin (Pygoscelis papua)
  • Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)
  • Mollymawk or Black–browed albatross (Diomedea melanophrys)
  • Sooty albatross (Phoebetria fuliginosa)
  • Giant petrel or nelly (Ossifraga gigantea)
  • MacCormick's skua gull (Megalestris maccormicki)
  • Southern skua gull (Megalestris antarctica)
  • Antarctic petrel (Thalassoeca antarctica)
  • Silver–grey petrel or southern fulmar (Priocella glacialoides)
  • Cape pigeon (Daption capensis)
  • Snow petrel (Pagodroma nivea)
  • Lesson's petrel (Oestrelata lessoni)
  • Wilson petrel (Oceanites oceanicus)
  • Storm petrel (Fregetta melanogaster)
  • Cape hen (Majaqueus oequinoctialis)
  • Small prion or whale bird (Prion banksii)
  • Crested tern (Sterna sp)
  • Southern black–backed or dominican gull (Larus dominicanus)
  • Macquarie Island shag (Phalacrocorax traversi)
  • Mutton bird (Puffinus griseus)
  • Maori hen or ‘weka’ (Ocydromus scotti)

Seals (Pinnipedia)

  • Sea elephant (Macrorhinus leoninus)
  • Sea leopard (Stenorhynchus leptonyax)
  • Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddelli)
  • Crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus)
  • Ross seal (Ommatophoca rossi)

Whales and dolphins (Cetacea)

  • Rorqual, finner, or blue whale (Balaenoptera sibbaldi)
  • Killer whale (Orca gladiator)

This version of Home of the Blizzard has been edited and published by the Australian Antarctic Division.