Carl R. Eklund (1909-1962)

Paul A. Siple


Dr. Carl Robert Eklund, posthumous Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America, prominent in arctic and antarctic research, Chief of the Polar and Arctic Branch of the U.S. Army Research Office, died on November 3, 1962 at the age of 53. His gregarious friendly nature, good humour and knack of story-telling made him a cherished friend of all who knew him. For 23 years he was a leading American specialist in ornithology and geographic research in both the north and south polar regions. His U.S. Government service in the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Army was approaching 29 years. Carl was born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin on January 27, 1909. ... With solid training and experience he answered the lure of the polar regions. From 1939-41 he served as ornithologist at the East Base of the U.S. Antarctic Service. This was the first modern U.S. Government-sponsored expedition to Antarctica, and the third of Rear Admiral Richard E. Bird's Antarctic commands. In addition to his collection of animal life for the Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Carl made one of the longest antarctic dog sled journeys accompanying Finn Ronne in a landward encirclement of Alexander I Island from the Palmer Peninsula Station on Stonington Island. Islands sighted near the turning point of this journey were named the Eklund Islands in his honour by the Board of Geographical Names. From 1941 to 43 he returned to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as research biologist in charge of game conservation and education on Indian reservations at Minneapolis, Minnesota. During World War II he served as commissioned officer, advancing to Major in the U.S. Army Air Force. He served in the Arctic Section of the Arctic Desert Tropic Information Center. ... The call of the polar regions drew him south again. His skill and experience were needed by the IGY organizers of the National Academy of Sciences. He was appointed as the first Scientific Station Leader of the Wilkes Station, Antarctica. His field leadership was outstanding, and he vigorously pursued his own program of biological and ornithological research. His bird banding program became international in scope around the entire continent. His field studies provided a basis for his doctoral thesis on the south-polar skua. He received his Ph.D. in zoology and geography from the University of Maryland in 1959. To maintain an intimate pursuit of polar research he accepted in 1958 the position of Chief of the Polar and Arctic Branch, Environmental Research Division of the U.S. Army Research Office, Washington, D.C. In this capacity he directed an extensive inter-disciplinary research program in the Arctic, necessitating frequent visits to Greenland and Alaska. Meanwhile, he served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Polar Research advising on research for Antarctica. His national and international reputation grew rapidly and his service as a lecturer and consultant on polar matters were in constant demand. His selection as the first president of the Antarctican Society of Washington, D.C. was a natural one. Dr. Eklund's publications during the last 20 years, mostly on zoological and ornithological topics, number close to 30. His first book, co-authored with Joan Beckman, "Antarctica, Land of Science", was in draft form at the time of his death. ... In spite of average build, his warm human kindliness, his mischievous humorous blue eyes, broad smile, short-cropped hair, and ready wit interspersed with clearly thought out serious observations made him a colourful figure in the polar world at its critical transition from the days of hard-fought polar discoveries to the modern research area.


Breakup; Melting; Salinity; Sea ice; Arctic Ocean

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