The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

2016 Edition
| Editors: Igor S. Zonn, Andrey G. Kostianoy, Aleksandr V. Semenov

Somov, Mikhail Mikhailovich (1908–1973)

Reference work entry

Somov, Mikhail Mikhailovich (1908–1973) – was a Soviet oceanologist, polar explorer, Doctor of Geographical Sciences, and Hero of the Soviet Union. In 1928 he started to work as a turner in a mechanical workshop of Far Eastern University and in 1929 entered shipbuilding department of Far Eastern Polytechnic University (FEPU) but, however, did not finish his studies, returning to the mechanical workshop. In 1933 took a job in Pacific Research Fisheries Centre (TINRO) and spent 6-month sailing on the vessels of scientific expeditions. After that S. resumed his studies on the second course of FEPU and took a job in the Directorate for Navigation Security. In 1937 graduated from Moscow Hydroreclamation Institute and was sent to Central Forecast Institute, where he continued his studies of the North Cape Current thermal regime. Since 1938, when he participated in ice reconnaissance for the first time, S. casts in his lot with the Arctic Region. In 1939 S. took part in convoying of “Josef Stalin” icebreaker – the first in the history of navigation through passage of two vessels along the Northern Sea Route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and back. In 1940 S. entered PhD program of the Arctic Institute, choosing the development of the Kara Sea ice coverage forecast as a subject for his thesis (passed defense in 1947). In the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945), S. was allocated to the White Sea Military Fleet for hydrological assistance in the White Sea ice operations. In August 1942, took part in meeting of an attack of the Dikson settlement by Nazi heavy cruiser “Admiral Scheer.” In 1943–1944 S. was on the Dikson Island. In October 1945 carried out ice reconnaissance during the first postwar flight to the North Pole. In 1948–1949 headed research groups of high-latitude expeditions “North-2” and “North-3,” dropped from planes on the ice of Central Arctic for hydrometeorological and hydrophysical research. The main result was the first data on the existence of underwater ridge (Lomonosov). In 1950–1951 headed a drifting station “North Pole-2,” which drifted in high latitudes of the Eastern Arctic Region in extreme conditions and in top secrecy for 376 days. For valor and bravery demonstrated during the drifting, S. was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union. “North Pole-2” pioneered regular operation of drifting stations in the Arctic Region. Main scientific achievement of S. was the discovery of an unknown underwater object called the Chukchi Plateau. S. also established a fact of penetration of waters from the Atlantic into the Chukchi Sea. In 1954 S. became a Doctor of Geographical Sciences. In 1955 S. headed the first Soviet Complex Antarctic expedition. In 1962 and 1963, S. also visited Antarctic. S. was awarded the golden medal of the British Royal Geographic Society and the Swedish Royal Society for Anthropology and Geography. He is the author of the book of recollections On the Domes of Earth (1989).

A sea in the Antarctic washing the coast of Victoria Land, a glacier in Queen Maud Land, and a research vessel are named after S..

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