Paul Allman Siple


Siple mentoring younger scouts

Growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania in the early 1900’s, Paul Siple joined the Boy Scouts in 1920 and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1923. In 1928 he was selected in a nationwide competition as the Boy Scout to accompany USN Commander Richard Byrd on his first Antarctic Expedition. Thousands of scouts from across America applied for this honor. Eventually the six finalists were invited to appear before a committee at the Boy Scout headquarters in New York City. Personal interviews, intelligence exams, and physical exams followed. Ultimately, Paul’s 59 merit badges (almost twice as many as the others) and his impressive interview with Byrd and the committee resulted in his being selected. On August 25, 1928 Eagle Scout Paul Siple left New York Harbor with the other members of the First Byrd Antarctic Expedition. EAGLE ON ICE, by Patricia Potter Wilson and Roger Leslie, tells the story of Paul’s life from 1928-1930.

Following Paul’s first expedition to Antarctica with Byrd in 1928-1930, Siple completed college and received a doctorate in geography. Much of his research focused on wind chill. He conducted experiments (with Charles Passel) which resulted in devising the formula for the wind chill index which was published in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society in 1945.

He also went on two more expeditions with Byrd before World War II suspended all further exploration. During World War II Dr. Siple worked with the Army to design cold weather clothing and equipment. He was commissioned as a Captain in the Army, and following World War II he was honorably discharged from the military as a Lieutenant Colonel.

He returned to the Antarctic in 1946 as a scientific advisor to Little America IV and later participated in Operation Deep Freeze I and II.

On December 31, 1956, he appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as the Scientific Leader of Admundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Under his leadership his group established the South Polar Station and was the first to winter-over there. National Geographic Magazine featured articles by Paul Siple about that first winter, and he was awarded the prestigious National Geographic Hubbard Medal. He continued his Antarctic research until his death in 1968.

Several Antarctic landmarks are named for him: Mount Siple, Siple Island, Siple Ridge, Siple Coast, and Siple Station. During his lifetime Paul authored four books, received three Congressional Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medals, Legion of Merit Award, seven honorary doctorate degrees, and numerous other awards.