Fridtjof Nansen Biography
Fridtjof Nansen Biography
Fridtjof Nansen Biography
Fridtjof Nansen Biography
Fridtjof Nansen Biography
Fridtjof Nansen Biography

Fridtjof Nansen Biography

Most Legendary Travelers In History

Full Name: Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen

Birth Date: 10 October 1861

Education: Royal Frederick University

Occupation: Scientist, Explorer, Diplomat, Humanitarian

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Who is Fridtjof Nansen?

Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen (10 October 1861 – 13 May 1930) was a Norwegian polymath and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He gained prominence at various points in his life as an explorer, scientist, diplomat, and humanitarian. He led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, traversing the island on cross-country skis. He won international fame after reaching a record northern latitude of 86°14′ during his Fram expedition of 1893—1896. Although he retired from exploration after his return to Norway, his techniques of polar travel and his innovations in equipment and clothing influenced a generation of subsequent Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.

His studies and adventure

In 1880 Nansen passed his university entrance examination, the examen artium. He decided to study zoology, claiming later that he chose the subject because he thought it offered the chance of a life in the open air. He began his studies at the Royal Frederick University in Christiania early in 1881. Early in 1882 Nansen took "...the first fatal step that led me astray from the quiet life of science." Professor Robert Collett of the university's zoology department proposed that Nansen take a sea voyage, to study Arctic zoology at first hand.

Nansen was enthusiastic, and made arrangements through a recent acquaintance, Captain Axel Krefting, commander of the sealer Viking. The voyage began on 11 March 1882 and extended over the following five months. In the weeks before sealing started, Nansen was able to concentrate on scientific studies. From water samples he showed that, contrary to previous assumption, sea ice forms on the surface of the water rather than below. His readings also demonstrated that the Gulf Stream flows beneath a cold layer of surface water. Through the spring and early summer Viking roamed between Greenland and Spitsbergen in search of seal herds. Nansen became an expert marksman, and on one day proudly recorded that his team had shot 200 seals. In July, Viking became trapped in the ice close to an unexplored section of the Greenland coast; Nansen longed to go ashore, but this was impossible. However, he began to develop the idea that the Greenland icecap might be explored, or even crossed. On 17 July the ship broke free from the ice, and early in August was back in Norwegian waters.

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