Home » Arctic: Frozen Ocean Introduction » Timeline

The Arctic: Exploration Timeline

Arctic discovery timeline

Arctic Timeline: Ancient Times from 330 BC to 1000 AD
Arctic Timeline from 1594-1610
Arctic Timeline from 1725-1779
Arctic Timeline from 1776-1779
Arctic Timeline from 1819-1831
Arctic Timeline from 1845-1873
Arctic Timeline 1878
Arctic Timeline from 1879-1882
Arctic Timeline from 1882-1884
Arctic Timeline from 1886-1909
Arctic Timeline from 1893-1895
Arctic Timeline from 1903-1905
Arctic Timeline from 1910-1915
Arctic Timeline from 1918-1925
Arctic Timeline 1930
Arctic Timeline 1958
Arctic Timeline from 1970-1990s
Arctic Timeline from 1993-1998
Arctic Timeline from 2007-2008
Portrait engraving of Willem Barents, a Dutch explorer.
Portrait engraving of Willem Barents, a Dutch explorer. © Public domain.

Henry Hudson, from Cyclopaedia of Universal History,
Henry Hudson, from Cyclopaedia of Universal History, 1885. © Public domain.

A driving force for the exploration of the Arctic was the desire of European monarchs to find an alternate trading route to China, either a Northwest Passage along the coast of North America, or a Northeast Passage along the coast of Siberia. 

Willem Barents, after whom the Barents Sea is named, makes three voyages trying to find a Northeast Passage. He discovered Spitsbergen and sailed on to the Kara Sea.  But on his last voyage in 1596, his ship became trapped by sea ice and he and his crew were forced to winter ashore on Novaya Zemlya. They built a cabin from the wrecked ship, and even though they had to battle hunger and scurvy, and the intense winter cold, they became the first West Europeans to winter in the high Arctic and survive. In June 1597, they set out for home in two open boats, but Barents soon died, although many of his men survived.

Henry Hudson, an Englishman, makes three voyages in search of the Northwest Passage to Asia through the Arctic Ocean. On his final expedition on board a ship named Discovery, he entered Hudson Bay and he mapped and explored the shoreline. When the ship became trapped in the ice, they moved ashore for the winter. When the ice cleared in spring, Hudson wanted to continue exploring but his crew wanted to return home. They mutinied, and set Hudson, his son, and some crewmen adrift in a small boat with nor food or water. They were never heard from again.

« Previous Page | Next Page »