Ursula Rack

Ursula Rack

Julius von Haast Level 7
Internal Phone: 95961
My research aim is to get a better understanding how weather events influence individuals and communities.


Research Interests

I work currently as contract researcher for the Deep South National Science Project. The project recovers meteorological information from logbooks (merchant and navy ships) from the late 18th century until the mid 20th century which operated in the Southern Ocean including in Australian and New Zealand waters. The data is processed then in the reanalysis of historic weather phenomena to draw conclusion for future weather models.

My research interest lays in environmental and social history which includes weather data from the Heroic era onwards to investigate the influence on social condition of early expedition members and their interactions which could influence the outcome of an expedition. This research includes also biographies of expedition members from German, Austro-Hungarian and English speaking countries. My research covers also political, social and economic factors which influenced the expeditions to put the events in an appropriate historic context.

Archival research is necessary to gather diaries, ship journals, correspondence, pictures and reports on expeditions. They are mostly handwritten and I do transcriptions to interpret the contents and put it in a wider context. Social conditions cover issues such as food, medical conditions, every day life, recruitment, insurance, income, hierarchy and leadership and how these conditions influenced the expeditions and vice versa the people.

Recent Publications

  • Rack U. (2021) Wilhelm Filchner – hierarchy and insufficient leadership on the Second German Antarctic Expedition. Polarforschung 89(1): 25-30. http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/polf-89-25-2021.
  • Rack U. (2019) Roald Amundsen’s sled dogs: the sledge dogs who helped discover the South Pole. The Polar Journal 9(2): 464-466. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2154896x.2019.1678989.
  • Rack U. (2019) The way to the Antarctic Treaty: System of rules in times of global conflict. Polar Record 55(5): 320-322. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0032247419000731.
  • Rack U. (2018) Exploring and mapping the Antarctic: Histories of discovery and knowledge. In Nuttall M; Christensen TR; Siegert MJ (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Polar Regions: 34-44. Boca Raton: Routledge. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315730639-3.
  • Rack U. (2018) Survival and science: Early Antarctic Explorers and Sealing. In Headland RK; Lintott BJ (Eds). Proceedings: 121-129. Cambridge: Scott Polar Reserach Institute Occasional Publicatoin Series.