Georg von Neumayer was a geophysicist and hydrographer who dedicated his life to the pursuit of science and the exploration of the Antarctic. Born in 1826, today the researcher is above all noted for his support of expeditions to the South Pole and his contributions as a scientific organiser.
Neumayer, who would later be made a member of the nobility, initially studied geophysics and hydrography in Munich – by 1851 he had not only completed his studies, but also had a shipping mate’s certificate in his pocket. His first sea voyages took him to Brazil and Australia. In the latter he founded the Flagstaff Observatory for geophysics, magnetism and nautical science in Melbourne in 1857, expanding it in the years to come as director.
After returning to Germany, from 1876 to 1903 he co-founded and led the German Hydrographic Office in Hamburg as its first director. In 1900 he was dubbed a commander and awarded the honorific “von” when he received the Bavarian Order of Merit.
A unique tribute
Beyond his works on geophysics and oceanography, Neumayer is perhaps best known for his outstanding commitment to polar research: in 1879 he became chairman of the International Polar Commission and was a driving force in initiating the first International Polar Year (1882/83) and the Antarctic Year (1901). The German Antarctic expedition with the research ship “Gauß” embarked the same year. Neumayer passed away in Neustadt an der Weinstraße in 1909.In recognition of his dedication to Antarctic research, the AWI chose to pay the pioneer a unique tribute: just like its two predecessors, the German Antarctic research base on the Ekström Ice Shelf bears his name: Neumayer Station III.