The importance of the polar regions to solving many of the fundamental problems in geophysics, including climatology and meteorology, was recognized by Austrian explorer Lt. Karl Weyprecht, scientist and co-commander with Lt. Julius von Payer of the Austro-Hungarian Polar Expedition of 1872–1874. He realized that the many private expeditions conducted previously would not suffice to provide the data needed to understand nature on a larger scale. During his long overwintering while stranded on the sea ice of the Barents Sea, Weyprecht contemplated the self-serving folly of frivolous polar nations and their generally unproductive scientific pursuits. The key to success in achieving a greater understanding of geophysical phenomena, he envisioned, was to be found in an effort of international science cooperation, working together at greater efficiency.

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