The polar explorer

On skis across Greenland

In 1882, Nansen had voyaged with the sealer Viking. He realised at the time that it must be possible to traverse the drift ice to the east coast of Greenland. From there, accompanied by five other skiers, he wanted to cross the Greenland ice cap from east coast to west – the opposite of what others had tried before him.

The Greenland Expedition was a huge success – both as a springboard for Norway as a polar nation and for Nansen himself, who became famous both at home and abroad. He also gleaned a lot of knowledge from the expedition, not least because they were obliged to spend the winter with the Inuit on the west coast of Greenland from autumn 1888 to spring 1889. Nansen used his time to study Inuit life and culture, something that later proved beneficial for both Nansen and polar research as a whole.

The Fram Expedition

Nansen’s aim was to prove the existence of ocean currents that cross the Arctic Ocean. He commissioned construction of the polar vessel Fram with the intention of allowing the ship to become icebound and drift with the current over North Pole. The expedition never reached the North Pole, though Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen penetrated farther north than anyone had previously – to 86° 14’. The expedition altered how the academic world perceived the Arctic. Nansen was able to demonstrate that the Arctic Ocean was a deep sea and that it was unlikely to contain any land masses.

The scientific results from the Fram Expedition were published in six volumes between 1900 and 1906.