Monday, 17 November 2008

Nansen and the Polar risks

Great programme last night on Nansen's voyage in his ship,the Fram, in an effort to reach the North Pole by using the movement of the Polar ice cap to ferry them there. The voyage started in 1893 and was completed over 3 years later .

The attempt was full of wonderfully inventive risk management ideas - the Fram was designed so that the pressure of the ice would, instead of squeezing it until it cracked, push it up and out on top of the ice. There was a wind driven propellor mounted on the mast to produce electricity. The food was varied which contributed to the health of the crew and helped relieve the monotony of the Arctic nights. Nansen had studied how the Inuit survived in the Arctic and used their techniques of building a shelter when he and a single companion had attempted to make it by dog sled to the North Pole. They turned their sleds into kayaks when, realising they were being taken away from the Pole by the movement of the ice ,they turned their attention to finding a way back, not to the Fram whose position after several weeks of ice movement was completely unknown to them' but to the nearest inhabited island.

Three and a half years after the Fram set out Nansen and all his companions returned safe, having made numerous important discoveries, including the existence of a deep ocean under the polar ice cap, but yet unable to claim the title of first men to the North Pole.

Truly the Norwegians were the pre-eminent risk managers of polar exploration.

Here is the map of Nansen's voyage.

No comments: