Nansen Fridtjof 
(10.10.1861–13.05.1930) 
 

The world famous Norwegian polar traveler, scientist, public figure. 
Born not far from Christiania. From his father, Baldur Nansen, a lawyer, he inherited ingenuity, a sense of duty, the ability to ponder decisions, delve into the smallest details of the case and firmly rely on his own strength and decency. From his mother, Adelaide, the Baroness, to Nansen passed excellent physical development, willpower, thirst for action, courage, determination and practicality. Parents gave Nansen a Spartan education. Already in childhood he was distinguished by his physical characteristics, courage, and determination.Under him, it was impossible to talk about something as impossible. In this case, he immediately sought to accomplish this. 
The first impetus to the development in Nansen of the passion for the study of the polar regions was given by a four-month voyage of twenty years old boys in the Arctic Ocean. In 1882  he set out on one of the ships of the seal-industrial company to sail among the ice, which was crucial for the direction of all his subsequent activities. Upon returning from swimming, he devoted himself to scientific studies.Having accepted the position offered to him by the conservative of the Bergen Museum, Nansen first worked under the direction of Professor Danielselsen, then independently; also worked in Pavia. He finished his overseas educational trip work at the Neapolitan Zoological Station. The first significant work of Nansen, published in 1885 and delivered him a gold medal, was "Materials on anatomy and histology mizostom". At that time the main subject of the young scientist's passion was the subtlest structure of the central nervous system of worms, crayfish and soft-bodied ones, and then he included even the lower ranks of vertebrates among the subjects of study. In his work on the study of the nervous system of these organisms, Nansen was the first to use the Golgi chromo-silver method. He managed to penetrate the mysterious construction of the central nervous system somewhat deeper than his predecessors. At the age of twenty-six, Nansen received his doctorate in zoology. 
However, the desire to explore the polar regions, dormant during Nansen's fascination with biological tasks, finally awakened with such force that forced him to exchange the peaceful work of the cabinet scientist for the adventurous life of the Arctic traveler. True to his principles, Nansen set himself an extremely large and difficult task immediately: moving through the entire ice plateau of Greenland from the east coast to the west. 
The desperately bold plan of the expedition immediately caused a whole stream of critical, negative assessments from both journalists and polar explorers. In one of the publications were the words: “Everyone who is at least a little familiar with the conditions in which the journey will take place, must stop supporting this crazy undertaking. The way Nansen intends to reach the coast of Greenland, that is, to leave the deck of a ship and, like a polar bear, crawl from one floe to another, shows such recklessness that you can hardly take this seriously".  And in one of the humorous Norwegian magazines, the following mocking announcement appeared: “In June of this year, the preparation Nansen shows running and jumping on skis in the central region of Greenland. Permanent seating in glacial cracks. No return ticket is required".  
Because of this attitude to Nansen’s plans, the Norwegian government refused to grant even a small sum of 5,000 kroons to the expedition’s financing. Fortunately, the Danish minister Avgustin Hamel, who financed other expeditions, provided the necessary funds to Nansen. 
The whole work on the equipment of the expedition Nansen took over. 
On July 17, 1888  having landed from a ship on boats in view of the eastern coast of Greenland, Nansen and his Norwegian companions O. Sverdrup, W. Dietrichson, Christiansen and two Laplanders with incredible efforts made their way through boats to an almost continuous strip of floating ice. Then, for a full twelve days, they were carried along the coast in a storm on an ice floe and they were almost 400 km away from the place designated as the starting point of the hike. Having made the mentioned end back, partly on boats, partly on foot along the shore, overcoming incredible difficulties and dangers, courageous travelers, without giving themselves the slightest rest, on August 16, 1888 began their bold and terribly difficult transition from Umivik fjord to Ameraliku fjord. Going through the mainland ice required travelers to overcome almost superhuman difficulties. The six daredevils dragged behind them heavy sleds with provisions and tools, fed almost cold hands half-starving, suffered from frosts reaching minus 45°C. Exactly one month they did not have any other water, except for the heat of their own body extracted from the snow packed in bottles. Having climbed to a height of 8,860 feet, the travelers penetrated into the inner area of ​​the ice plateau, making all the necessary scientific observations along the way, and then safely reached the opposite edge of the plateau and the western coast of the country. Thus, they passed through the entire area of ​​continental ice from east to west, which until then was considered impracticable. The feat of Nansen and his important results for geography, geology, meteorology and climatology were appreciated. The Swedish Anthropological Society awarded Nansen the Vega Gold Medal, established in memory of the famous voyage of N.A.Nordenskiöld on the "Vega". Then Nansen won the Gold Medal of Karl Ritter and the Gold Medal "Victoria" from the London Geographical Society, many honorary diplomas and other insignia and was elected an honorary member of many learned societies. Upon returning from Greenland in June 1889  Nansen temporarily devoted himself exclusively to literary work, preparing two major works for publication: “Skiing through Greenland” - a description of the expedition just made, and “Life of the Eskimos” - a description of the life of the indigenous inhabitants of Greenland, which is Nansen studied during the wintering in Gotham. 
Shortly before the start of the Greenland Expedition, Nansen was skiing in the vicinity of Christiania and suddenly saw two waving legs with skis in a snowdrift. He helped the man up and saw a beautiful girl - this was his future wife Eva Sars, one of the best opera singers in Norway. After the expedition, their engagement took place, and in 1889 they were married. 
In honor of his wife and eldest daughter Nansen called the island on Franz Josef Land - Eva-Liv.

 

Cape Cluv  (Beak) in the west of Eva Liv Island

(photo by EA Gusev)


Having barely finished with the processing and publication of the results of the first expedition, Nansen set to work: preparing an even bolder and more ambitious expedition to the North Pole region. Nansen based his plan on the existence of a current heading from the Bering Strait and the New Siberian Islands to the North Pole and then turning south or southwest between Spitsbergen and Greenland. This assumption of Nansen was based on the fact of the discovery of D. De-Long's expedition on the south-west coast of Greenland, whose vessel “Jeannette” was crushed by ice in 1881 northeast of the New Siberian Islands. Additional evidence of the existence of such a current was the discovery of trunks of Siberian larches off the coast of Greenland, particles of soil, diatoms, sailed with ice from Cape Vankarem in the Bering Strait. Nansen, hoping to get as high as possible north of the New Siberian Islands, let him froze in floating ice and then drift along with the ice along the current, which should lead them to the North Pole or to a point close to it. In order for the ship not to be crushed by the pressure of the ice, it must have a structure in which the ice will squeeze it upstairs unscathed. Nansen himself designed the project of such a vessel, the construction of which he entrusted to the remarkable Norwegian shipmasterColin Archer. The vessel, called the "Fram", had strongly sloping and rounded sides, of short length with considerable width. 
Preparations for the polar expedition demanded from him a huge strain and the cost of mental, physical and mental strength. He overcame everything, first of all skepticism, distrust, and even just accusations of recklessness expressed by many polar authorities. F. McClintock, J. Ners, J. Hooker and others have argued that no vessel can withstand the pressure of ice for a long time. A. Greeley wrote that the frivolous undertaking of Nansen is absurd. One of his articles ended with poisonous words: “Arctic research expeditions, even conducted by legal and generally accepted methods, are fraught with such reckless boldness and risk that they should not be burdened by Dr. Nansen’s self-liquidation plans.” The plan was supported by the British polar explorers K. Markham, E. Inglefield, and the famous German geographer A. Zupan. C.O. 
Makarov sent a letter to the Swedish-Norwegian ambassador to Russia Reutersheld, in which he recommended organizing a food depot for the Nansen Archipelago on Franz Josef Land , and advised Nansen himself to leave signs with notes about the distance traveled and further intentions. 
Appreciating the opinion of reputable ill-wishers, Nansen acted in accordance with his plans. Nothing could shake his perseverance and faith in success, which were based on forethought, subtle calculation and knowledge of their own capabilities. The necessary appropriations were received. The Norwegian National Assembly allocated 280,000 kronor to the expedition, then many individuals, mainly Norwegians, came to the rescue. The total amount was about half a million crowns. Finally, the Fram was built. 
The works of Nansen were not in vain. According to the testimony of experts, no vessel was equipped for such an expedition better than the Fram. As a result, the expedition passed and ended brilliantly. For all three years, there were no patients on the Fram; moreover, many ordinary participants subsequently stated that on the expedition they lived and ate better than at home. When they returned from Nansen’s expedition, they were asked: “Has anything unexpected happened?”, he replied: “We foresaw five times more than what actually happened”. 
The expedition, which consisted, in addition to Nansen, of 12 reliable comrades chosen by him, sailed from Christiania on June 24, 1893, and ten days later left the last point of the civilized world - Khabarov Cape on the Yugorsky Ball, where she dropped in behind the driving dogs purchased and sent there by Nansen’s request by Baron E. V. Toll. 
Then three years about the expedition there was no news. On August 1, 1896 Nansen returned to his homeland with Lieutenant F.Ya. Johansen, and on August 8, the Fram with the rest of the expedition, which ended without deviating from the plan outlined by Nansen. Expedition was as follows. 
On September 22, 1893 at 78° 50'N and 133° 37'E, the ship was allowed to freeze hard in the ice that the Fram suffered, as it was calculated, to the north-west.During the drift, continuous observations were made on meteorology, astronomy, oceanography, botany, and zoology.

 

"Fram" in the Kara Sea

"Fram" in the ice

 


On June 18, 1894, the Fram reached 81° 52'N ; December 21 - 82° , December 24 - 83° and a few days later 83° 24'. 
On January 4 and 5, the ice pressure was the strongest, forcing the entire crew to prepare for the crash and disembarking on the ice, but the Fram justified Nansen's calculations and, when the pressure reached the highest voltage, was elevated by ice and not crushed. 
Anticipating that the "Fram", carried away by this current, could not reach the polar region, Nansen decided to leave the ship and go to the pole on dogs and skiing on the ice. Given the distance that had to be overcome, the expected speed of movement, food consumption and the needs of the remaining team on the ship, Nansen justified the number of participants, dogs and cargoes needed for the trip. It was decided to go together, and Nansen approached the choice of specific participants very seriously. It was clear that Nansen himself and the captain of the Fram O. Sverdrup were the best candidates for the march, but this option was ruled out: they could not leave the ship together. One of them had to stay to take responsibility for the remaining people. On the ship, everything went well, and no particular complications were expected. The Fram was standing on a multimeter ice cushion that guaranteed it from any kind of ice movement. To an unbiased person it was clear that the participants of the march, march into the unknown, with no chance of returning to the Fram, were exposed to much greater danger. Naturally, there was no alternative for such a person as Nansen: he himself led the campaign. Having transferred all the rights of the expedition leader to Sverdrup, Nansen and Lieutenant Johansen, most physically and mentally prepared for the upcoming trials, they left the Fram on March 14, 1895 at 83° 59'N. and 102° 27'E. Their trip lasted 15 months in extremely difficult conditions: on April 7, 1895  Nansen with a satellite reached 86° 14'N, i.e. penetrated north at 3° latitude farther than all previous expeditions. The speed of their advance to the north was significantly lower than the calculated one. Nansen realized that even if they reached the pole, they would not have enough food to go back. 
In this situation, he made the difficult, but the only right decision to turn back and try to reach the archipelago a Franz Josef Land. 
The path passed through the husky snow-covered ice and was incredibly difficult. 
Only at the beginning of August, the exhausted travelers reached Franz Josef Landand were forced to winter on Jackson Islands in the northern part of the archipelago, planning to continue their journey next year. They built themselves a hut, in fact, a hole 3 meters long and 1.8 meters wide. It was possible to stand, not bent over, in it only in the very center. Its walls were stones laid with moss, the role of the roof served as bear skins. In this hut, they practically lay side by side until spring, eating exclusively bear meat, which they prepared in abundance in the autumn, seizing it with burnt lard, caught from the lamp. Nansen called these pieces of bacon "cakes". Walrus fat was used as fuel, and the lamp was refueled. Travelers suffered terribly from the inconvenience of their homes, cold and dirt, which covered them with a thick layer. Lingerie turned into greasy rags stuck to the body, scratching and tearing the skin on which non-healing wounds were formed. The only salvation from sleep was a dream. Only very healthy people, both spiritually and physically, could withstand all this. Neither Nansen nor Iogansen had even a hint of scurvy or any nervous disorders. Judging by Nansen’s diary, which he regularly conducted, despite all the difficulties, a sense of humor did not leave them. Characteristic, for example, is a record of January 3, 1896: “Johann is asleep and snoring for the whole hut. I am glad that his mother does not see him now. She probably would have been saddened if she saw her boy — he was so torn off, black and disgustingly dirty; soot streaks spread across the face. But, nothing: she will still see him clean, white and rosy”!

 

Wintering place of Nansen and Johansen on Jackson Island

Forward! South!

Forcing breeding

Meeting of Nansen and Jackson at Cape Flora Northbrook Island


After the onset of spring, part of the travelers walked on the ice, partly along the open fairway on kayaks continued southwest. On June 17, 1896 they unexpectedly stumbled upon F. Jackson's expedition wintering at Cape Flora on Northbrook Island. In his book, Nansen describes this amazing encounter on a deserted island. At first he heard a dog barking, and then, not believing his eyes, saw a man approaching him. “I waved my hat, the man did the same. Then we stretched each other's hands. On the one hand - a civilized European in a checkered English suit, high rubber boots, carefully shaved and combed, fragrant with fragrant soap, the smell of which reached the savage sense of savage. On the other hand, a savage, dressed in dirty rags, with long disheveled hair and a bristly beard, with a face so blackened that the natural white color could not be discerned under a thick layer of blubber and soot. None of them knew who the other was and where he came from. ”After greetings and a few natural questions, Jackson looked closely at Nansen in the face and said: "Can you be Nansen?" - "Yes, I am Nansen" - "I swear, I'm terribly glad to see you".

After a month and a half, the "Windworth" steamer, which brought supplies of the Jackson expedition, delivered Nansen and Johansen to his homeland. The further voyage of the Fram was also quite happy; October 16, 1895 they reached the highest northern latitude 85° 57'. "Fram" arrived at home, as it was calculated, from Spitsbergen. During the drift of the "Fram", oceanographic and meteorological observations were carried out, refuting the opinion of the shallowness of the Arctic Ocean, the structure and origin of its water masses were established, and the influence of the Earth's daily rotation on the movement of ice was discovered. Important observations have been made in the field of geology, biology, zoology, and terrestrial magnetism. In the process of hiking on Nansen and Johannsen, a number of islands were discovered on Franz Josef Land ; the map of the archipelago, compiled by Yu. Paier, was clarified. 
Honoring Nansen in his homeland, on his return from the expedition, reached unprecedented grandeur. The whole country was led by the king. Russia also highly appreciated the achievement of Nansen, awarding him with the highest award of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society - the Great Konstantinovsky Medal, which only one foreigner had before him - N.А.-E. Nordenskiöld. The whole world recognized Nansen as an outstanding polar explorer, everyone wanted to see him, hear him, touch him, shake his hand and express his admiration. Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Berlin, New York, Montreal - the route of his triumphal tour. Only one American, Greeley, managed to blame Nansen for abandoning the team to their fate. 
In 1900, Nansen participated in an expedition to study currents in the Arctic Ocean. In 1902, he created the Central Oceanographic Laboratory in Christiania, was one of the organizers and a member of the International Council for the Study of the Seas. Nansen developed a method for determining the velocity of a current from a drifting vessel, proposed by M.V. Lomonosov and S.O. Makarov, designed bathometer and accurate hydrometer. 
Immersed in scientific and social work, Nansen nevertheless cherished a long-held dream of an expedition to the South Pole. With this campaign, he wanted to complete his life as a polar explorer. For an expedition to the shores of Antarctica, Nansen first planned to build a new ship, then, when this failed, he relied on his good old Fram.But life has made its own adjustments. There were new urgent matters, he was forced to engage in political activities. In 1905, Nansen headed the movement for the dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian union, which ensured the independence of Norway, in 1906 he was appointed Norway's ambassador to Great Britain. Time gone, Nansen was already 46 years old. After consulting with his wife, he, as once in the Arctic Ocean, took a difficult but surest decision - you have to turn back. "Fram" was given to a younger R. Amundsen. To top it all at the end of 1907  he was beaten by a terrible family drama - the death of his wife. Eve’s death turned out to be an unbearable test for this mighty man’s body and spirit. Nansen seemed knocked down, crushed and helpless. "I know what sadness means, I know what it means when everything around you goes out, when life becomes only anguish: what the sunlight brought us was gone forever, and we look helpless into the night". He somehow aged at once, became withdrawn and unsociable. 
In 1913  Nansen sailed along the shores of the Arctic Ocean to the mouth of the Yenisei River, then traveled along the south of Eastern Siberia and the Far East. 
After the end of the First World War, he was the High Commissioner of the League of Nations for Prisoners of War, was one of the organizers of assistance to the starving Volga region. 
In 1925–1929 Nansen headed the commission for the repatriation of Armenian refugees to Soviet Armenia. For humane activities in 1922, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 
Nansen sought to remain active almost until the very end of his life. Keeping up with the times, he understood the necessity of exploring the Polar basin using air vehicles. He was elected president of the Aeroarctic Society formed in 1924 for life. Nansen was going to lead a test flight on the airship, which was planned for 1929. To collect the necessary funds, he lectured in different countries. Several lectures had the theme “Arctic Transport in 2000”. But he was not destined to realize his new plans. In the last year of his life, Nansen suffered from a disease of the blood vessels, and since March 1930, he almost did not leave the bed. On May 13  on a sunny warm day, he sat in an armchair on the veranda of his house. Suddenly his head sank upon his chest. The sister-in-law next door lifted his head up, he opened his eyes, kissed the woman bending over him, and died. 
The funeral of Nansen took place on May 17 on the day of the national holiday of Norway. A hearse with the body of Nansen stood on University Square. At 13 o'clock the gun salvo heralded a two-minute silence. The place of the hearse was occupied by eight closest friends and co-workers of Nansen, among whom were O. Sverdrup, U. Dietrichson, S. Torup. 
The mourning ceremony was very simple. The rector of the university, the president of the Storting, and the Prime Minister spoke. The orchestra of the Philharmonic Society performed the “Mourning March” by E. Grieg and the national anthem of Norway, which was sung by thousands of citizens who attended the farewell ceremony.The crematorium was attended by 120 people, including King Haakon of Norway, who delivered a farewell speech at the State Council on the eve, and Olaf, Crown Prince, with his family. There was no speech, only the monologue “Wounded” by E. Grieg performed by the quartet of musicians. 
An urn with ashes was buried under one of the birches in the estate of Nansen Polugde. 
H. Sverdrup gave a comprehensive assessment of Nansen’s personality, saying that Nansen was great as a polar explorer, greater as a scientist, and even greater as a man. 
Peninsula (Land of Nansen) on the north-west coast of Greenland. 
An island in the south of the archipelago Franz Josef Land and a cape in the west of the island of George Land. Opened and named in 1895 by F. Jackson. 
Island west of Taimyr Island. Named in 1900 by E.V. Toll. 
Cape on the east coast of Victoria Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Discovered and named in 1905 during a boat trip, Lieutenant G. Hansen, a member of the expedition of R. Amundsen on the "Joa". The name Hansen is also named Cape on the east coast of Victoria Island. 
Mountain plateau on the northern coast of Taimyr. Named in 1914 by R. Amundsen. 
Mountain on the west coast of the northern island of Novaya Zemlya. Named in 1921 by the Norwegian expedition O. Holtedal. 
Glacier on the east coast of the northern island of Novaya Zemlya. It was mapped in 1925 by the Novaya Zemlya expedition of the Institute for the Study of the North on the ship "Elding" under the leadership of R.L. Samoylovich. 
Glacier (Nansenbreen) on the shore of the Is Fjord on the island of Western Spitsbergen.

Glacier in West Greenland on the Melville Bay coast.

Strait between the islands of Ellesmere and Axel-Heiberg in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Opened and named in 1902 by the expedition of O. Sverdrup on the "Frame".

Bay (Nansen Fjord) on King Christian IX Land in East Greenland.

 

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