The South Pole, Volume 2
Part 5 out of 6
On November 13 we passed the northernmost of the Prince Edward Islands,
and on the 18th close to Penguin Island, the most south-westerly
of the Crozets. In the neighbourhood of the latter we saw a great
quantity of birds, a number of seals and penguins, and even a little
iceberg. I went close to the land to check the chronometers, which
an observation and bearings of the islands showed to be correct.
Our course was then laid for Kerguelen Island, but we went too far
north to see it, as for two weeks the wind was south-easterly and
southerly, and the leeway we made when sailing close-hauled took us
every day a little to the north of east. When we were in the same
waters in 1910, there was gale after gale; then we did not put in at
Kerguelen on account of the force of the wind; this time we could not
approach the island because of the wind's direction. In no respect
can the second trip be compared with the first; I should never have
dreamed that there could be so much difference in the "Roaring Forties"
in two different years at the same season. In the "Foggy Fifties"
the weather was calm and fine, and we had no fog until lat. 58° S.
As regards the distance sailed, November, 1911, is the best month
the Fram has had.
In December, which began with a speed of one and a half knots, calm,
swell against us, and the engine at full speed, we had a fair wind for
three days, all the rest calms and head winds; the first part of the
month from the north-east and east, so that we came much too far south;
even in long. 150 E. we were in lat. 60° S. In Christmas week we had
calms and light winds from the south-east, so that we managed to steal
eastward to long. 170° E. and lat. 65° S., where, on the edge of the
pack-ice, we had a stiff breeze from the north-north-east, that is,
straight on to the ice.
Between Buenos Aires and the pack-ice we caught, as I have said,
a good many birds, mostly albatrosses, and about thirty skins were
prepared by L. Hansen. The largest albatross we got measured twelve
feet between the tips of its wings, and the smallest bird was of a
land species, not much bigger than a humming-bird.
Talking of albatrosses, it is both amusing and interesting to watch
their elegant flight in a high wind. Without a movement of the wings
they sail, now with, now against, the wind; at one instant they
touch the surface of the water with the points of their wings, at the
next they go straight into the air like an arrow. An interesting and
instructive study for an aviator.
In a wind, when there is generally a number of them hovering about the
vessel, they will dash down after anything that is thrown overboard;
but of course it is useless to try to catch them when the ship has
so much way. This must be done the next day, when the wind is lighter.
The birds are caught with an iron triangle, which ought to be enclosed
in wood, so that it will float on the water. At the apex, which is
very acute, the iron is filed as sharp as a knife, and pork is hung
on each of the sides. When this is thrown in the wake of the ship,
the bird settles on the water to feed. The upper part of its beak is
hooked like that of a bird of prey, and as the albatross opens its beak
and bites at the pork, you give a jerk, so that the triangle catches
the upper part of the beak by two small notches, and the bird is left
hanging. If the line should break, the whole thing simply falls off
and the bird is unharmed. In hauling in, therefore, you have to be
very careful to hold the line quite tight, even if the bird flies
towards you, otherwise it will easily fall off: A bird may be pulled
half-way in several times, and will immediately take the bait again.
On the night of December 11 an unusually beautiful aurora was seen;
it lasted over an hour, and moved in a direction from west to east.
On the 14th all the white paint was washed; the temperature was 43°
F., and we were in shirt-sleeves.
For a whole week before Christmas the cook was busy baking Christmas
cakes. I am bound to say he is industrious; and the day before
Christmas Eve one of the little pigs, named Tulla, was killed. The
swineherd, A. Olsen, whose special favourite this pig was, had to
keep away during the operation, that we might not witness his emotion.
Early on the morning of Christmas Eve we saw the three first icebergs;
there was an absolute calm all day, with misty air.
To keep Christmas the engine was stopped at 5 p.m., and then all hands
came to dinner. Unfortunately we had no gramophone to sing to us, as in
1910; as a substitute the "orchestra" played "Glade Jul, hellige Jul,"
when all were seated. The orchestra was composed of Beck on the violin,
Sundbeck on the mandolin, and the undersigned on the flute. I puffed
out my cheeks as much as I could, and that is not saying a little,
so that the others might see how proficient I was. I hardly think
it was much of a musical treat; but the public was neither critical
nor ceremonious, and the prevalent costume was jerseys. The dinner
consisted of soup, roast pork, with fresh potatoes and whortleberries,
ten-years-old aquavit and Norwegian bock beer, followed by wine-jelly
and "kransekake," with -- champagne. The toasts of their Majesties
the King and Queen, Don Pedro Christophersen, Captain Amundsen,
and the Fram were drunk.
I had decorated the saloon in a small way with artificial flowers,
embroideries, and flags, to give a little colour. Dinner was followed
by cigars and the distribution of Christmas presents. L. Hansen
played the accordion, and Lieutenant Gjertsen and Rönne danced "folk
dances"; the latter was, as usual, so amusing that he kept us in fits
At ten o'clock it was all over, the engine was started again, one
watch went to bed and the other on deck; Olsen cleaned out the pigsty,
as usual at this time of night. That finished Christmas for this year.
As has been said before, Sir James Ross was down here in the
1840's. Two years in succession he sailed from the Pacific into Ross
Sea with two ships that had no auxiliary steam-power. I assumed,
therefore, that if he could get through so easily, there must be
some place between South Victoria Land and the Barrier (or land)
on the other side, where there was little or no ice. Following this
assumption, I intended to go down to the western pack-ice (that lying
off South Victoria Land) and steer along it till we were in Ross Sea,
or, at all events, until we found a place where we could easily get
through. It is quite possible that Ross was very lucky in the time
at which he encountered the ice, and that he only sailed in clear
weather. We had no time to spare, however, but had to make use of
whatever wind there was, even if we could not see very far.
As early as December 28, at 5 p.m., in lat. 65° S. and long. 171.5°
E., it was reported that we were off the pack. I was a good deal
surprised, as recent expeditions had not met the pack until 66.5°
S., or about one hundred nautical miles farther south, nor had there
been any sign of our being so near the ice. The wind for the last
few days had been south-easterly, but for the moment it was calm; we
therefore held on to the east along the edge of the pack, with the ice
to starboard. About midnight the wind freshened from the north, and we
lay close-hauled along the edge of the ice till midday on the 29th,
when the direction of the ice became more southerly. The northerly
wind, which gradually increased to a stiff breeze, was good enough
for getting us on, but it must inevitably bring fog and snow in its
train. These came, sure enough, as thick as a wall, and for a couple
of days we sailed perfectly blindly.
Outside the pack-ice proper lie long streams of floes and loose
scattered lumps, which become more frequent as one nears the pack. For
two days we sailed simply by the lumps of ice; the more of them we saw,
the more easterly was our course, until they began to decrease, when we
steered more to the south. In this way we went in forty-eight hours
from lat. 65° S. and long. 174° E. to lat. 69° S. and long. 178°
E., a distance of about two hundred and fifty nautical miles,
without entering the pack. Once we very nearly went into the trap,
but fortunately got out again. The wind was so fresh that we did as
much as eight and a half knots; when sailing at such a rate through
a loose stream of ice, we sometimes ran upon a floe, which went under
the ship's bottom, and came up alongside the other way up.
During the afternoon of the 31st the streams of ice became closer
and closer, and then I made the mistake of continuing to sail to the
eastward; instead of this, I ought to have stood off, and steered
due south or to the west of south, with this ice on ourport side. The
farther we advanced, the more certain I was that we had come into the
eastern pack-ice. It must be remembered, however, that owing to fog
and thick snow we had seen nothing for over two days. Observations
there were none, of course; our speed had varied between two and eight
and a half knots, and we had steered all manner of courses. That our
dead reckoning was not very correct in such circumstances goes without
saying, and an observation on January 2 showed us that we were somewhat
farther to the east than we had reckoned. On the evening of December 31
the fog lifted for a while, and we saw nothing but ice all round. Our
course was then set due south. We had come right down in lat. 69.5°
S., and I hoped soon to be clear altogether; in 1910 we got out of
the ice in 70°S., and were then in the same longitude as now.
Now, indeed, our progress began to be slow, and the old year went out
in a far from pleasant fashion. The fog was so thick that I may safely
say we did not see more than fifty yards from the ship, whereas we
ought to have had the midnight sun; ice and snow-sludge were so thick
that at times we lay still. The wind had, unfortunately, fallen off,
but we still had a little breeze from the north, so that both sails
and engine could be used. We went simply at haphazard; now and then
we were lucky enough to come into great open channels and even lakes,
but then the ice closed again absolutely tight. It could hardly be
called real ice, however, but was rather a snow-sludge, about two feet
thick, and as tough as dough; it looked as if it had all just been
broken off a single thick mass. The floes lay close together, and we
could see how one floe fitted into the other. The ice remained more
or less close until we were right down in lat. 73°S. and long. 179°
W.; the last part of it was old drift-ice.
From here to the Bay of Whales we saw a few scattered streams of
floes and some icebergs.
A few seals were shot in the ice, so that we had fresh meat enough,
and could save the sheep and pigs until the shore party came on
board. I was sure they would appreciate fresh roast pork.
The chart of Ross Sea has been drawn chiefly as a guide to future
expeditions. It may be taken as certain that the best place to go
through the ice is between long. 176° E. and 180°, and that the best
time is about the beginning of February.
Take, for instance, our southward route in 1911 -- 1912: as has been
said, the ice was met with as early as in 65° S., and we were not
clear of it till about 73° S.; between 68° S. and 69° S. the line
is interrupted, and it was there that I ought to have steered to
Now follow the course from the Bay of Whales in 1912. Only in about 75°
S. was ice seen (almost as in 1911), and we followed it. After that
time we saw absolutely no more ice, as the chart shows; therefore in
the course of about a month and a half all the ice that we met when
going south had drifted out.
The stippled line shows how I assume the ice to have lain; the heavy
broken line shows what our course ought to have been.
The midnight sun was not seen till the night of January 7, 1912,
to the south of lat. 77° S.; it was already 9.5° above the horizon.
On the night of January 8 we arrived off the Barrier in extremely
bitter weather. South-westerly and southerly winds had held for a
few days, with fair weather; but that night there was thick snow,
and the wind gradually fell calm, after which a fresh breeze sprang
up from the south-east, with biting snow, and at the same time a lot
of drift-ice. The engine went very slowly, and the ship kept head to
wind. About midnight the weather cleared a little, and a dark line,
which proved to be the Barrier, came in sight. The engine went ahead
at full speed, and the sails were set, so that we might get under
the lee of the perpendicular wall. By degrees the ice-blink above the
Barrier became lighter and lighter, and before very long we were so
close under it that we only just had room to go about. The Barrier
here runs east and west, and with a south-easterly wind we went along
it to the east. The watch that had gone below at eight o'clock, when
we were still in open sea, came up again at two to find us close to
the long-desired wall of ice.
Some hours passed in the same way, but then, of course, the wind
became easterly -- dead ahead -- so that we had tack after tack till
6 p.m. the same day, when we were at the western point of the Bay
The ice lay right out to West Cape, and we sailed across the mouth
of the bay and up under the lee of the eastern Barrier, in order,
if possible, to find slack ice or open water; but no, the fast ice
came just as far on that side. It turned out that we could not get
farther south than 78°30' -- that is, eleven nautical miles farther
north than the previous year, and no less than fifteen nautical miles
from Framheim, taking into consideration the turn in the bay.
We were thus back at the same place we had left on February 14,
1911, and had since been round the world. The distance covered on
this voyage of circumnavigation was 25,000 nautical miles, of which
8,000 belong to the oceanographical cruise in the South Atlantic.
We did not lie under the lee of the eastern Barrier for more than
four hours; the wind, which had so often been against us, was true to
its principles to the last. Of course it went to the north and blew
right up the bay; the drift-ice from Ross Sea came in, and at midnight
(January 9 -- 10) we stood out again.
I had thought of sending a man up to Framheim to report that we had
arrived, but the state of the weather did not allow it. Besides, I
had only one pair of private ski on board and should therefore only
have been able to send one man. It would have been better if several
had gone together.
During the forenoon of the l0th it gradually cleared, the wind fell
light and we stood inshore again. As at the same time the barometer
was rising steadily, Lieutenant Gjertsen went ashore on ski about
Later in the afternoon a dog came running out across the sea-ice,
and I thought it had come down on Lieutenant Gjertsen's track; but I
was afterwards told it was one of the half-wild dogs that ran about
on the ice and did not show themselves up at the hut.
Meanwhile the wind freshened again; we had to put out for another
twenty-four hours and lay first one way and then the other with
shortened sail; then there was fine weather again and we came in. At 4
p.m. on the 11th Lieutenant Gjertsen returned with Lieutenant Prestrud,
Johansen and Stubberud. Of course we were very glad to see one another
again and all sorts of questions were asked on both sides. The Chief
and the southern party were not yet back. They stayed on board till
the 12th, got their letters and a big pile of newspapers and went
ashore again; we followed them with the glasses as far as possible,
so as to take them on board again if they could not get across the
cracks in the ice.
During the days that followed we lay moored to the ice or went out,
according to the weather.
At 7 p.m. on the 16th we were somewhat surprised to see a vessel
bearing down. For my part, I guessed her to be the Aurora, Dr. Mawson's
ship. She came very slowly, but at last what should we see but the
Japanese flag! I had no idea that expedition was out again. The ship
came right in, went past us twice and moored alongside the loose
ice. Immediately afterwards ten men armed with picks and shovels went
up the Barrier, while the rest rushed wildly about after penguins,
and their shots were heard all night. Next morning the commander of
the Kainan Maru, whose name was Homura, came on board. The same day
a tent was set up on the edge of the Barrier, and cases, sledges, and
so on, were put out on the ice. Kainan Maru means, I have been told,
"the ship that opens the South."
Prestrud and I went on board her later in the day, to see what she
was like, but we met neither the leader of the expedition nor the
captain of the ship. Prestrud had the cinematograph apparatus with him,
and a lot of photographs were also taken.
The leader of the Japanese expedition has written somewhere or other
that the reason of Shackleton's losing all his ponies was that the
ponies were not kept in tents at night, but had to lie outside. He
thought the ponies ought to be in the tents and the men outside. From
this one would think they were great lovers of animals, but I must
confess that was not the impression I received. They had put penguins
into little boxes to take them alive to Japan! Round about the deck
lay dead and half-dead skua gulls in heaps. On the ice close to the
vessel was a seal ripped open, with part of its entrails on the ice;
but the seal was still alive. Neither Prestrud nor I had any sort of
weapon that we could kill the seal with, so we asked the Japanese
to do it, but they only grinned and laughed. A little way off two
of them were coming across the ice with a seal in front of them;
they drove it on with two long poles, with which they pricked it
when it would not go. If it fell into a crack, they dug it up again
as you would see men quarrying stone at home; it had not enough life
in it to be able to escape its tormentors. All this was accompanied
by laughter and jokes. On arrival at the ship the animal was nearly
dead, and it was left there till it expired.
On the 19th we had a fresh south-westerly wind and a lot of ice
went out. The Japanese were occupied most of the night in going
round among the floes and picking up men, dogs, cases, and so on, as
they had put a good deal on to the ice in the course of the day. As
the ice came out, so the Fram went in, right up to fat. 78°35' S.,
while the Kainan Maru drifted farther and farther out, till at last
she disappeared. Nor did we see the vessel again, but a couple of
men with a tent stayed on the Barrier as long as we were in the bay.
On the night of the 24th there was a stiff breeze from the west,
and we drifted so far out in the thick snow that it was only on the
afternoon of the 27th that we could make our way in again through a
mass of ice. In the course of these two days so much ice had broken
up that we came right in to fat. 78°39' S., or almost to Framheim, and
that was very lucky. As we stood in over the Bay of Whales, we caught
sight of a big Norwegian naval ensign flying on the Barrier at Cape
Man's Head, and I then knew that the southern party had arrived. We
went therefore as far south as possible and blew our powerful siren;
nor was it very long before eight men came tearing down. There was
great enthusiasm. The first man on board was the Chief; I was so
certain he had reached the goal that I never asked him. Not till an
hour later, when we had discussed all kinds of other things, did I
enquire "Well, of course you have been at the South Pole?"
We lay there for a couple of days; on account of the short distance
from Framheim, provisions, outfit, etc., were brought on board. If such
great masses of ice had not drifted out in the last few days, it would
probably have taken us a week or two to get the same quantity on board.
At 9.30 p.m. on January 30, 1912, in a thick fog, we took our moorings
on board and waved a last farewell to the mighty Barrier.
From the Barrier to Buenos Aires, Via Hobart.
The first day after our departure from the Barrier everything we had
taken on board was stowed away, so that one would not have thought
our numbers were doubled, or that we had taken several hundred cases
and a lot of outfit on board. The change was only noticed on deck,
where thirty-nine powerful dogs made an uproar all day long, and in
the fore-saloon, which was entirely changed. This saloon, after being
deserted for a year, was now full of men, and it was a pleasure to
be there; especially as everyone had something to tell -- the Chief
of his trip, Prestrud of his, and Gjertsen and I of the Fram's.
However, there was not very much time for yarning. The Chief at once
began writing cablegrams and lectures, which Prestrud and I translated
into English, and the Chief then copied again on a typewriter. In
addition to this I was occupied the whole time in drawing charts,
so that on arrival at Hobart everything was ready; the time passed
quickly, though the voyage was fearfully long.
As regards the pack-ice we were extremely lucky. It lay in exactly
the same spot where we had met with it in 1911 -- that is, in about
lat. 75° S. We went along the edge of it for a very short time, and
then it was done with. To the north of 75° we saw nothing but a few
We made terribly slow progress to the northward, how slow may perhaps
be understood if I quote my diary for February 27:
"This trip is slower than anything we have had before; now and then
we manage an average rate of two knots an hour in a day's run. In
the last four days we have covered a distance that before would have
been too little for a single day. We have been at it now for nearly
a month, and are still only between lat. 52° and 53° S. Gales from
the north are almost the order of the day," etc. However, it is an
ill wind that blows nobody any good, and the time was well employed
with all we had to do.
After a five weeks' struggle we at last reached Hobart and anchored
in the splendid harbour on March 7.
Our fresh provisions from Buenos Aires just lasted out; the last of
the fresh potatoes were finished a couple of days before our arrival,
and the last pig was killed when we had been at Hobart two days.
The Fram remained here for thirteen days, which were chiefly spent in
repairing the propeller and cleaning the engine; in addition to this
the topsail-yard, which was nearly broken in the middle, was spliced,
as we had no opportunity of getting a new one.
The first week was quiet on board, as, owing to the circumstances,
there was no communication with the shore; but after that the ship
was full of visitors, so that we were not very sorry to get away again.
Twenty-one of our dogs were presented to Dr. Mawson, the leader of
the Australian expedition, and only those dogs that had been to the
South Pole and a few puppies, eighteen in all, were left on board.
While we lay in Hobart, Dr. Mawson's ship, the Aurora, came in. I went
aboard her one day, and have thus been on board the vessels of all
the present Antarctic expeditions. On the Terra Nova, the British, on
February 4, 1911, in the Bay of Whales; on the Deutschland, the German,
in September and October, 1911, in Buenos Aires; on the Kainan Maru,
the Japanese, on January 17, 1912, in the Bay of Whales; and finally
on the Aurora in Hobart. Not forgetting the Fram, which, of course,
I think best of all.
On March 20 the Fram weighed anchor and left Tasmania.
We made very poor progress to begin with, as we had calms for nearly
three weeks, in spite of its being the month of March in the west wind
belt of the South Pacific. On the morning of Easter Sunday, April 7,
the wind first freshened from the north-west and blew day after day,
a stiff breeze and a gale alternately, so that we went splendidly
all the way to the Falkland Islands, in spite of the fact that the
topsail was reefed for nearly five weeks on account of the fragile
state of the yard. I believe most of us wanted to get on fast; the
trip was now over for the present, and those who had families at home
naturally wanted to be with them as soon as they could; perhaps that
was why we went so well.
On April 1 Mrs. Snuppesen gave birth to eight pups; four of these
were killed, while the rest, two of each sex, were allowed to live.
On Maundy Thursday, April 4, we were in long. 180° and changed the
date, so that we had two Maundy Thursdays in one week; this gave us a
good many holidays running, and I cannot say the effect is altogether
cheerful; it was a good thing when Easter Tuesday came round as an
On May 6 we passed Cape Horn in very fair weather; it is true we,
had a snow-squall of hurricane violence, but it did not last much
more than half an hour. For a few days the temperature was a little
below freezing-point, but it rose rapidly as soon as we were out in
From Hobart to Cape Horn we saw no ice.
After passing the Falkland Islands we had a head wind, so that the
last part of the trip was nothing to boast of.
On the night of May 21 we passed Montevideo, where the Chief had
arrived a few hours before. From here up the River La Plata we
went so slowly on account of head wind that we did not anchor in
the roads of Buenos Aires till the afternoon of the 23rd, almost
exactly at the same time as the Chief landed at Buenos Aires. When
I went ashore next morning and met Mr. P. Christophersen, he was in
great good-humour. "This is just like a fairy tale," he said; and it
could not be denied that it was an amusing coincidence. The Chief,
of course, was equally pleased.
On the 25th, the Argentine National Fête, the Fram was moored at the
same quay that we had left on October 5, 1911. At our departure there
were exactly seven people on board to say good-bye, but, as far as I
could see, there were more than this when we arrived; and I was able
to make out, from newspapers and other sources, that in the course of
a couple of months the third Fram Expedition had grown considerably
In conclusion I will give one or two data. Since the Fram left
Christiania on June 7, 1910, we have been two and a half times round
the globe; the distance covered is about 54,400 nautical miles; the
lowest reading of the barometer during this time was 27.56 inches (700
millimetres) in March, 1911, in the South Pacific, and the highest
30.82 inches (783 millimetres) in October, 1911, in the South Atlantic.
On June 7, 1912, the second anniversary of our leaving Christiania,
all the members of the Expedition, except the Chief and myself, left
for Norway, and the first half of the Expedition was thus brought to
a fortunate conclusion.
By Commodore Christian Blom
Colin Archer says in his description of the Fram, in Fridtjof Nansen's
account of the Norwegian Arctic Expedition, 1893 -- 1896, that the
successful result of an expedition such as that planned and carried
out by Dr. Nansen in the years 1893 -- 1896 must depend on the care
with which all possible contingencies are foreseen, and precautions
taken to meet them, and the choice of every detail of the equipment
with special regard to the use to which it will be put. To no part
of the equipment, he says, could this apply with greater force than
to the ship which was to carry Dr. Nansen and his companions on their
Colin Archer then built the ship -- Fram was her name -- and she
showed -- first on Fridtjof Nansen's famous voyage, and afterwards
on Sverdrup's long wintering expedition in Ellesmere Land, that
she answered her purpose completely, nay, she greatly exceeded the
Then Roald Amundsen decided to set out on a voyage not less adventurous
than the two former, and he looked about for a suitable ship. It
was natural that he should think of the Fram, but she was old --
about sixteen years -- and had been exposed to many a hard buffet;
it was said that she was a good deal damaged by decay.
Roald Amundsen, however, did not allow himself to be discouraged
by these misgivings, but wished to see for himself what kind of
a craft the Fram was after her two commissions. He therefore came
down to Horten with Colin Archer on June 1, 1908, and made a thorough
examination of the vessel. He then, in the spring of 1909, requested
the Naval Dockyard at Horten to repair the ship and carry out the
alterations he considered necessary for his enterprise.
Before giving an account of the repairs and alterations to the vessel
in 1909 -- 1910, we shall briefly recapitulate, with the author's
permission, a part of the description of the Fram in Fridtjof Nansen's
work, especially as regards the constructive peculiarities of the
The problem which it was sought to solve in the construction of the
Fram was that of providing a ship which could survive the crushing
embrace of the Arctic drift-ice. To fit her for this was the object
before which all other considerations had to give way.
But apart from the question of mere strength of construction, there
were problems of design and model which, it was thought, would play an
important part in the attainment of the chief object. It is sometimes
prudent in an encounter to avoid the full force of a blow instead of
resisting it, even if it could be met without damage; and there was
reason to think that by a judicious choice of model something might
be done to break the force of the ice-pressure, and thus lessen its
danger. Examples of this had been seen in small Norwegian vessels that
had been caught in the ice near Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya. It often
happens that they are lifted right out of the water by the pressure
of the ice without sustaining serious damage; and these vessels are
not particularly strong, but have, like most small sailing-ships,
a considerable dead rising and sloping sides. The ice encounters
these sloping sides and presses in under the bilge on both sides,
until the ice-edges meet under the keel, and the ship is raised up
into the bed that is formed by the ice itself.
In order to turn this principle to account, it was decided to depart
entirely from the usual flat-bottomed frame-section, and to adopt
a form that would offer no vulnerable point on the ship's side, but
would cause the increasing horizontal pressure of the ice to effect
a raising of the ship, as described above. In the construction of
the Fram it was sought to solve this problem by avoiding plane or
concave surfaces, thus giving the vessel as far as possible round and
full lines. Besides increasing the power of resistance to external
pressure, this form has the advantage of making it easy for the ice
to glide along the bottom in any direction.
The Fram was a three-masted fore-and-aft schooner with an auxiliary
engine of 200 indicated horse-power, which was calculated to give her
a speed of 6 knots, when moderately loaded, with a coal consumption
of 2.8 tons a day.
The vessel was designed to be only large enough to carry the necessary
coal-supply, provisions, and other equipment for a period of five
years, and to give room for the crew.
Her principal dimensions are:
Length of keel 103.3 English feet
Length of waterline 119'
Length over all 128'
Beam on waterline 34'
Greatest beam 36'
Her displacement, with a draught of 15.6 feet, is 800 tons. The
measurements are taken to the outside of the planks, but do not
include the ice-skin. By Custom-house measurement she was found to
be 402 gross tons register, and 807 tons net.
The ship, with engines and boilers, was calculated to weigh about 420
tons. With the draught above mentioned, which gives a freeboard of 3
feet, there would thus be 380 tons available for cargo. This weight
was actually exceeded by 100 tons, which left a freeboard of only
20 inches when the ship sailed on her first voyage. This additional
immersion could only have awkward effects when the ship came into the
ice, as its effect would then be to retard the lifting by the ice,
on which the safety of the ship was believed to depend in a great
measure. Not only was there a greater weight to lift, but there was
a considerably greater danger of the walls of ice, that would pile
themselves against the ship's sides, falling over the bulwarks and
covering the deck before the ice began to raise her. The load would,
however, be lightened by the time the ship was frozen fast. Events
showed that she was readily lifted when the ice-pressure set in, and
that the danger of injury from falling blocks of ice was less than
had been expected. The Fram's keel is of American elm in two lengths,
14 inches square; the room and space is 2 feet. The frame-timbers
are almost all of oak obtained from the Naval Dockyard at Horten,
where they had lain for many years, thus being perfectly seasoned. The
timbers were all grown to shape. The frames consist of two tiers of
timbers everywhere, each timber measuring 10 to 11 inches fore and aft;
the two tiers of timbers are fitted together and bolted, so that they
form a solid and compact whole. The joints of the frame-timbers are
covered with iron plates. The lining consists of pitch-pine in good
lengths and of varying thickness from 4 to 6 inches. The keelson is
also of pitch-pine, in two layers, one above the other; each layer 15
inches square from the stem to the engine-room. Under the boiler and
engine there was only room for one keelson. There are two decks. The
beams of the main-deck are of American or German oak, those of the
lower deck and half-deck of pitch-pine and Norwegian fir. All the deck
planks are of Norwegian fir, 4 inches in the main-deck and 3 inches
elsewhere. The beams are fastened to the ship's sides by knees of
Norwegian spruce, of which about 450 were used. Wooden knees were,
as a rule, preferred to iron ones, as they are more elastic. A good
many iron knees were used, however, where wood was less suitable. In
the boiler and engine room the beams of the lower deck had to be
raised about 3 feet to give sufficient height for the engines. The
upper deck was similarly raised from the stern-post to the mainmast,
forming a half-deck, under which the cabins were placed. On this
half-deck, immediately forward of the funnel, a deck-house was
placed, arranged as a chart-house, from which two companions (one
on each side) led down to the cabins. Besides the ice-skin, there
is a double layer of outside planking of oak. The two first strakes
(garboard strakes), however, are single, 7 inches thick, and are
bolted both to the keel and to the frame-timbers. The first (inner)
layer of planks is 8 inches thick, and is only fastened with nails;
outside this comes a layer of 4-inch planks, fastened with oak trenails
and through bolts, as usual. The two top strakes are single again, and
6 inches thick. The ice-skin is of greenheart, and covers the whole
ship's side from the keel to 18 inches from the sheer strake. It is
only fastened with nails and jagged bolts. Each layer of planks was
caulked and pitched before the next one was laid. Thus only about 3
or 4 inches of the keel projects below the planking, and this part of
the keel is rounded off so as not to hinder the ice from passing under
the ship's bottom. The intervals between the timbers were filled with
a mixture of coal-tar, pitch, and sawdust, heated together and put in
warm. The ship's side thus forms a compact mass varying in thickness
from 28 to 32 inches. As a consequence of all the intervals between
the timbers being filled up, there is no room for bilge-water under
the lining. A loose bottom was therefore laid a few inches above the
lining on each side of the keelson. In order to strengthen the ship's
sides still more, and especially to prevent stretching, iron braces
were placed on the lining, running from the clamps of the top deck
down to well past the floor-timbers.
The stem consists of three massive oak beams, one inside the other,
forming together 4 feet of solid oak fore and aft, with a breadth of
15 inches. The three external plankings as well as the lining are all
rabbeted into the stem. The propeller-post is in two thicknesses,
placed side by side, and measures 26 inches athwart-ship and 14
inches fore and aft. It will be seen from the plan that the overhang
aft runs out into a point, and that there is thus no transom. To
each side of the stern-post is fitted a stout stern-timber parallel
to the longitudinal midship section, forming, so to speak, a double
stern-post, and the space between them forms a well, which goes right
up through the top deck. The rudder-post is placed in the middle
of this well, and divides it into two parts, one for the propeller
and one for the rudder. In this way it is possible to lift both the
rudder and the screw out of the water. The rudder is so hung that
the rudder-stock, which is cylindrical, turns on its own axis, to
prevent the rudder being jammed if the well should be filled with
ice. Aft of the rudder-well the space between the stern-timbers is
filled with solid wood, and the whole is securely bolted together with
bolts running athwart-ship. The frame-timbers join the stern-timbers
in this part, and are fastened to them by means of knees. The stem
and stern-post are connected to the keelson and to the keel by stout
knees of timber, and both the ship's sides are bound together with
solid breasthooks and crutches of wood or iron.
Although the Fram was not specially built for ramming, it was probable
that now and then she would be obliged to force her way through the
ice. Her bow and stern were therefore shod in the usual way. On the
forward side of the stem a segment-shaped iron was bolted from the
bobstay-bolt to some way under the keel. Outside this iron plates (3 x
3/4 inches) were fastened over the stem, and for 6 feet on each side
of it. These iron plates were placed close together, and thus formed
a continuous armour-plating to a couple of feet from the keel. The
sharp edge of the stern was protected in the same way, and the lower
sides of the well were lined with thick iron plates. The rudder-post,
which owing to its exposed position may be said to form the Achilles'
heel of the ship, was strengthened with three heavy pieces of iron,
one in the opening for the screw and one on each side of the two posts
and the keel, and bolted together with bolts running athwart-ship.
Extraordinary precautions were taken for strengthening the ship's
sides, which were particularly exposed to destruction by ice-pressure,
and which, on account of their form, compose the weakest part of the
hull. These precautions will best be seen in the sections (Figs. 3
and 4). Under each beam in both decks were placed diagonal stays of
fir (6 x 10 inches), almost at right angles to the ship's sides, and
securely fastened to the sides and to the beams by wooden knees. There
are 68 of these stays distributed over the ship. In addition, there
are under the beams three rows of vertical stanchions between decks,
and one row in the lower hold from the keelson. These are connected
to the keelson, to the beams, and to each other by iron bands. The
whole of the ship's interior is thus filled with a network of braces
and stays, arranged in such a way as to transfer and distribute the
pressure from without, and give rigidity to the whole construction. In
the engine and boiler room it was necessary to modify the arrangement
of stays, so as to give room for the engines and boiler. All the iron,
with the exception of the heaviest forgings, is galvanized.
When Otto Sverdrup was to use the Fram for his Polar expedition,
he had a number of alterations carried out. The most important of
these consisted in laying a new deck in the fore part of the ship,
from the bulkhead forward of the engine-room to the stem, at a height
of 7 feet 4 inches (to the upper side of the planks) above the old
fore-deck. The space below the new deck was fitted as a fore-cabin,
with a number of state-rooms leading out of it, a large workroom,
etc. The old chart-house immediately forward of the funnel was removed,
and in its place a large water-tank was fitted. The foremast was
raised and stepped in the lower deck. A false keel, 10 inches deep
and 12 inches broad, was placed below the keel. A number of minor
alterations were also carried out.
After the Fram returned in 1902 from her second expedition under
Captain Sverdrup, she was sent down to Horten to be laid up in the
Not long after the vessel had arrived at the dockyard, Captain Sverdrup
proposed various repairs and alterations. The repairs were carried
out in part, but the alterations were postponed pending a decision
as to the future employment of the vessel.
The Fram then lay idle in the naval harbour until 1905, when she was
used by the marine artillery as a floating magazine. In the same
year a good deal of the vessel's outfit (amongst other things all
her sails and most of her rigging) was lost in a fire in one of the
naval storehouses, where these things were stored.
In 1903 the ship's keel and stem (which are of elm and oak) were
sheathed with zinc, while the outer sheathing (ice-skin), which is of
greenheart, was kept coated with coal-tar and copper composition. In
1907 the whole outer sheathing below the water-line was covered with
zinc; this was removed in 1910 when the ship was prepared for her
third commission under Roald Amundsen.
In 1907 a thorough examination of the vessel was made, as it was
suspected that the timber inside the thick cork insulation that
surrounded the cabins had begun to decay.
On previous expeditions the cabins, provision hold aft, and workrooms
forward of the fore-cabin, had been insulated with several thicknesses
of wooden panelling. The interstices were filled with finely-divided
cork, alternately with reindeer hair and thick felt and linoleum. In
the course of years damp had penetrated into the non-conducting
material, with the result that fungus and decay had spread in the
surrounding woodwork. Thus it was seen during the examination in 1907
that the panelling and ceiling of the cabins in question were to a
great extent rotten or attacked by fungus. In the same way the under
side of the upper deck over these cabins was partly attacked by fungus,
as were its beams, knees, and carlings. The lower deck, on the other
hand, was better preserved. The filling-in timbers of spruce or fir
between the frame-timbers in the cabins were damaged by fungus, while
the frame-timbers themselves, which were of oak, were good. The outer
lining outside the insulated parts was also somewhat damaged by fungus.
In the coal-bunkers over the main-deck the spruce knees were partly
rotten, as were some of the beams, while the lining was here fairly
The masts and main-topmast were somewhat attacked by decay, while
the rest of the spars were good.
During and after the examination all the panelling and insulation
was removed, the parts attacked by fungus or decay were also removed,
and the woodwork coated with carbolineum or tar. The masts and various
stores and fittings were taken ashore at the same time.
It was found that the rest of the vessel-that is, the whole of the
lower part of the hull right up to the cabin deck-was perfectly sound,
and as good as new. Nor was there any sign of strain anywhere. It is
difficult to imagine any better proof of the excellence of the vessel's
construction; after two protracted expeditions to the most northern
regions to which any ship has ever penetrated, where the vessel was
often exposed to the severest ice-pressure, and in spite of her being
(in 1907) fifteen years old, the examination showed that her actual
hull, the part of the ship that has to resist the heavy strain of
water and ice, was in just as good condition as when she was new.
The vessel was then left in this state until, as already mentioned,
Roald Amundsen and her builder, Colin Archer, came down to the dockyard
on June 1, 1908, and with the necessary assistance made an examination
After some correspondence and verbal conferences between Roald Amundsen
and the dockyard, the latter, on March 9, 1909, made a tender for the
repairs and alterations to the Fram. The repairs consisted of making
good the damage to the topsides referred to above.
The alterations were due in the first instance to the circumstance
that the steam-engine and boiler (the latter had had its flues burnt
out on Sverdrup's expedition) were to be replaced by an oil-motor; as
a consequence of this the coal-bunkers would disappear, while, on the
other hand, a large number of oil-tanks, capable of containing about
90 tons of oil, were to be put in. It was also considered desirable
to rig square-sails on the foremast in view of the great distances
that were to be sailed on the proposed expedition.
The present arrangement of the vessel will best be followed by
referring to the elevation and plan (Figs. 1 and 2).
In the extreme after-part of the lower hold is placed the 180
horse-power Diesel engine, surrounded by its auxiliary machinery
In addition, some of the tanks containing the fuel itself are placed
in the engine-room (marked O); the other tanks shown in the engine-room
(marked 9) serve for storing lubricating oil. The existing engine-room
was formerly the engine and boiler room, with coal-bunkers on both
sides in the forward part. Forward of the watertight bulkhead of the
engine-room we have, in the lower hold, the main store of oil-fuel,
contained in tanks (marked O) of various sizes, on account of their
having to be placed among the numerous diagonal stays. The tanks are
filled and emptied by means of a pump and a petroleum hose through a
manhole in the top, over which, again, are hatches in the deck above;
no connecting pipes are fitted between the different tanks, for fear
they might be damaged by frost or shock, thus involving a risk of
losing oil. The main supply tank for fuel is placed over the forward
side of the engine-room, where it is supported on strong steel girders;
inside this tank, again, there are two smaller ones -- settling tanks
-- from which the oil is conveyed in pipes to the engine-pumps. The
main tank is of irregular shape -- as will be seen from the drawing
-- since a square piece is taken out of its starboard after-corner
for a way down into the engine-room. Besides this way down, an
emergency way leads up from the engine-room, right aft, to one of the
after-cabins. The oil hold is closed forward by a watertight bulkhead,
which goes up to the main-deck. The hold forward of the oil-supply
is unaltered, and serves for stowing cargo (mainly provisions),
as does the hold above the oil-supply and below the main-deck.
On the main-deck right aft we now find a space arranged on each side
of the well for the propeller and rudder; the lower part of this
space is occupied by two tanks for lamp-oil, and above the tanks is
a thin partition, which forms the floor of two small sail-rooms, with
hatches to the deck above. Around the mizzenmast is the after-saloon,
with eight cabins leading out of it. From the forward end of the
after-saloon two passages lead to the large workroom amidships. These
passages run past what were formerly coal-bunkers, but are now arranged
as cabins, intended only to be used in milder climates, as they are
not provided with any special insulation. From the port passage a
door leads to the engine-room companion. In the after-part of the
large workroom is the galley. This room is entirely lined with zinc,
both on walls and ceiling (on account of the danger of fire), while the
deck is covered with lead, on which tiles are laid in cement. Forward
of the galley is the main hatch, and two large water-tanks are fitted
here, one on each side. The remainder of the workroom affords space
for carpenter's benches, turning-lathes, a forge, vices, etc. From
the workroom two doors lead into the fore-saloon with its adjoining
cabins. Amundsen's cabin is the farthest forward on the starboard side,
and communicates with an instrument-room. From the fore-saloon a door
leads out forward, past a sixth cabin.
In the space forward on the main-deck we have the fore-hatch, and
by the side of this a room entirely lined with zinc plates, which
serves for storing furs. Forward of the fur store is fitted a 15
horse-power one-cylinder Bolinder motor for working the capstan; the
main features of its working will be seen in the drawing. There are
two independent transmissions: by belt and by chain. The former is
usually employed. The chain transmission was provided as a reserve,
since it was feared that belt-driving might prove unserviceable in
a cold climate. This fear, however, has hitherto been ungrounded.
Forward of the motor there is a large iron tank to supply water for
cooling it. In the same space are chain-pipes to the locker below
and the heel of the bowsprit. This space also serves as cable-tier.
On the upper deck we find aft, the opening of the rudder-well and
that of the propeller-well, covered with gratings. A piece was added
to the lower part of the rudder to give more rudder area.
Forward of the propeller-well comes the reserve steering-gear, almost
in the same position formerly occupied by the only steering-gear; the
ordinary steering-gear is now moved to the bridge. The old engine-room
companion aft is now removed, and forward of the after-wheel is only
the skylight of the after-saloon. Up through the latter comes the
exhaust-pipe of the main engine. Forward of and round the mizzenmast
is the bridge, which is partly formed by the roofs of the large
chart-house and laboratory amidships and the two houses on each
side. The chart-house occupies the place of the old boiler-room
ventilator, and abuts on the fore-deck. (It is thus a little aft of
the place occupied by the chart-house on Nansen's expedition.) It is
strongly built of timbers standing upright, securely bolted to the
deck. On both sides of this timber work there are panels, 2 inches
thick on the outside and 1 inch on the inside, and the space between
is filled with finely-divided cork. Floor and roof are insulated in
a similar way, as is also the door; the windows are double, of thick
plate-glass. Inside the chart-house, besides the usual fittings for
its use as such, there is a companion-way to the engine-room, and
a hatch over the manhole to the main supply tank for oil-fuel. The
opening in the deck has a hatch, made like the rest of the deck (in
two thicknesses, with cork insulation between); the intention is to
cut off the engine-room altogether, and remove the entrance of this
companion during the drift in the ice through the Polar sea. The side
houses are constructed of iron, and are not panelled; they are intended
for w.c. and lamp-room. On the roof of the chart-house are the main
steering-gear and the engine-room telegraph. On the port side, on the
forward part of the after-deck, a Downton pump is fitted, which can
either be worked by hand or by a small motor, which also serves to
drive the sounding-machine, and is set up on the after-deck. Forward
of the starboard side house is the spare rudder, securely lashed to
deck and bulwarks. On each side of the chart-house a bridge leads to
the fore-deck, with ways down to the workroom and fore-saloon. On
the fore-deck, a little forward of the mainmast, we find the two
ship's pumps proper, constructed of wood. The suction-pipe is of
wood, covered on the outside with lead, so as to ]prevent leakage
through possible cracks in the wood; the valves are of leather,
and the piston of wood, with a leather covering. The pump-action is
the usual nickel action, that was formerly general on our ships, and
is still widely used on smacks. These simple pumps have been shown by
experience to work better than any others in severe cold. The fore-deck
also has skylights over the fore-saloon, the main and fore hatches,
and finally the capstan. This is of the ordinary horizontal type,
from Pusnes Engineering Works; it is driven by the motor below, as
already mentioned. The capstan can also be used as a winch, and it
can be worked by hand-power.
The Fram carries six boats: one large decked boat (29 x 9 x 4 feet)
-- one of the two large boats carried on Nansen's expedition --
placed between the mainmast and the foremast, over the skylight;
three whale-boats (20 x 6 feet), and one large and one small pram; the
two last are carried on davits as shown in the drawing. One of these
whale-boats was left behind on the Ice Barrier, where it was buried
in snow when the ship left. It was brought ashore that the wintering
party might have a boat at their disposal after the Fram had sailed.
For warming the vessel it is intended to use only petroleum. For
warming the laboratory (chart-house) there is an arrangement by which
hot air from the galley is brought up through its forward wall.
The vessel was provided with iron chain plates bolted to the timbers
above the ice-skin. The mizzenmast is new. There was a crack in
the beam that forms the support for the mizzenmast; it was therefore
strengthened with two heavy iron plates, secured by through-bolts. Two
strong steel stanchions were also placed on each side of the engine,
carried down to the frame-timbers. The old mizzenmast has been
converted into a bowsprit and jib-boom in one piece. There are now
standing gaffs on all three masts. The sail area is about 6,640
All the cabins are insulated in the same way as before, though it
has been found possible to simplify this somewhat. In general the
insulation consists of:
1. In the cabins, against the ship's side and under the upper deck,
there is first a layer of cork, and over that a double panelling of
wood with tarred felt between.
2. Above the orlop deck aft there is a layer of cork, and above this
a floor of boards covered with linoleum.
3. Under the orlop deck forward there is wooden panelling, with
linoleum over the deck.
Bulkheads abutting on parts of the ship that are not warmed consist
of three thicknesses of boards or planks with various non-conducting
materials, such as cork or felt, between them.
When the vessel was docked before leaving Horten, the zinc sheathing
was removed, as already stated, since fears were entertained that it
would be torn by the ice, and would then prevent the ice from slipping
readily under the bottom during pressure. The vessel has two anchors,
but the former port anchor has been replaced by a considerably
heavier one (1 ton 1 1/2 hundredweight), with a correspondingly
heavier chain-cable. This was done with a special view to the voyage
round Cape Horn.
In order to trim the ship as much as possible by the stern, which
was desirable on account of her carrying a weather helm, a number
of heavy spare stores, such as the old port anchor and its cable,
were stowed aft, and the extreme after-peak was filled with cement
containing round pieces of iron punched out of plates.
Along the railing round the fore-deck strong netting has been placed
to prevent the dogs falling overboard. For the upper deck a loose
wooden grating has been made, so that the dogs shall not lie on
the wet deck. Awnings are provided over the whole deck, with only
the necessary openings for working the ship. In this way the dogs
have been given dry and, as far as possible, cool quarters for the
voyage through the tropics. It is proposed to use the ship's spars as
supports for a roof of boards, to be put up during the drift through
the ice as a protection against falling masses of ice.
The Fram's new engine is a direct reversible Marine-Polar-Motor,
built by the Diesel Motor Co., of Stockholm. It is a Diesel engine,
with four working and two air-pump cylinders, and develops normally
at 280 revolutions per minute 180 effective horse-power, with a
consumption of oil of about 7 3/4 ounces per effective horse-power
per hour. With this comparatively small consumption, the Fram's fuel
capacity will carry her much farther than if she had a steam-engine,
a consideration of great importance in her forthcoming long voyage
in the Arctic Sea. With her oil capacity of about 90 tons, she will
thus be able to go uninterruptedly for about 2,273 hours, or about
95 days. If we reckon her speed under engine power alone at 4 1/2
knots, she will be able to go about 10,000 nautical miles without
replenishing her oil-supply. It is a fault in the new engine that
its number of revolutions is very high, which necessitates the use
of a propeller of small diameter (5 feet 9 inches), and thus of low
efficiency in the existing conditions. This is the more marked on
account of the unusual thickness of the Fram's propeller-post, which
masks the propeller to a great extent. The position of the engine will
be seen in Fig. 1. The exhaust gases from the engine are sent up by
a pipe through the after-saloon, through its skylight, and up to a
large valve on the bridge; from this valve two horizontal pipes run
along the after side of the bridge, one to each side: By means of the
valve the gases can be diverted to one side or the other, according
to the direction of the wind, Besides the usual auxiliary engines,
the main engine drives a large centrifugal bilge-pump, an ordinary
machine bilge-pump, and a fan for use in the tropics.
When the Fram left Christiania in the spring of 1910, after taking
her cargo on board, she drew 17 feet forward and 19 feet 5 inches
aft. This corresponds to a displacement (measured outside the ice-skin)
of about 1,100 tons. The ice-skin was then 12 1/2 inches above the
Remarks on the Meteorological Observations at Framheim
By B. J. Birkeland
On account of the improvised character of the South Polar Expedition,
the meteorological department on the Fram was not so complete as it
ought to have been. It had not been possible to provide the aerological
outfit at the time of sailing, and the meteorologist of the expedition
was therefore left behind in Norway. But certain things were wanting
even to complete the equipment of an ordinary meteorological station,
such as minimum thermometers and the necessary instructions that should
have accompanied one or two of the instruments. Fortunately, among
the veterans of the expedition there were several practised observers,
and, notwithstanding all drawbacks, a fine series of observations was
obtained during ten months' stay in winter-quarters on the Antarctic
continent. These observations will provide a valuable supplement to
the simultaneous records of other expeditions, especially the British
in McMurdo Sound and the German in Weddell Sea, above all as regards
the hypsometer observations (for the determination of altitude)
on sledge journeys. It may be hoped, in any case, that it will be
possible to interpolate the atmospheric pressure at sea-level in all
parts of the Antarctic continent that were traversed by the sledging
expeditions. For this reason the publication of a provisional working
out of the observations is of great importance at the present moment,
although the general public will, perhaps, look upon the long rows
of figures as tedious and superfluous. The complete working out of
these observations can only be published after a lapse of some years.
As regards the accuracy of the figures here given, it must be noted
that at present we know nothing about possible alterations in the
errors of the different instruments, as it will not be possible to
have the instruments examined and compared until we arrive at San
Francisco next year. We have provisionally used the errors that
were determined at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute before
the expedition sailed; it does not appear, however, that they have
altered to any great extent.
The meteorological outfit on the Fram consisted of the following
instruments and apparatus:
Three mercury barometers, namely:
One normal barometer by Fuess, No. 361 .
One Kew standard barometer by Adie, No. 889.
One Kew marine barometer by Adie, No. 764.
Five aneroid barometers:
One large instrument with thermometer attached, without name
Two pocket aneroids by Knudsen, Copenhagen, one numbered 1,503.
Two pocket aneroids by Cary, London, Nos. 1,367 and 1,368,
for altitudes up to 5,000 metres (16,350 feet).
Two hypsometers by Casella, with several thermometers.
Twelve ordinary standard (psychrometer-) thermometers,
divided to fifths of a degree (Centigrade).
Ten ordinary standard thermometers, divided to degrees.
Four sling thermometers, divided to half degrees.
Three maximum thermometers, divided to degrees.
One normal thermometer by Mollenkopf, No. 25.
Eighteen sling thermometers, divided to degrees.
Three normal thermometers-by Tounelot, No. 4,993, and Baudin,
Nos. 14,803 and 14,804.
Two torsion hair hygrometers of Russeltvedt's construction,
Nos. 12 and 14.
One cup and cross anemometer of Professor Mohn's construction,
with spare cross.
One complete set of precipitation gauges, with Nipher's shield,
gauges for snow density, etc.
One hair hygrograph.
A number of spare parts, and a supply of paper and ink for
In addition, various books were taken, such as Mohn's "Meteorology,"
the Meteorological Institute's "Guide," psychrometric tables, Wiebe's
steam-pressure tables for hypsometer observations, etc.
The marine barometer, the large aneroid, and one of the barographs,
the four mercury sling thermometers, and two whole-degree standard
thermometers, were kept on board the Fram, where they were used for
the regular observations every four hours on the vessel's long voyages
backwards and forwards.
As will be seen, the shore party was thus left without mercury sling
thermometers, besides having no minimum thermometers; the three maximum
thermometers proved to be of little use. There were also various
defects in the clockwork of the registering instruments. The barographs
and thermographs have been used on all the Norwegian Polar expeditions;
the hygrograph is also an old instrument, which, in the course of
its career, has worked for over ten years in Christiania, where
the atmosphere is by no means merciful to delicate instruments. Its
clockwork had not been cleaned before it was sent to the Fram, as was
done in the case of the other four instruments. The barographs worked
irreproachably the whole time, but one of the thermographs refused
absolutely to work in the open air, and unfortunately the spindle pivot
of the other broke as early as April 17. At first the clockwork of the
hygrograph would not go at all, as the oil had become thick, and it
was not until this had been removed by prolonged severe heating (baking
in the oven for several days) that it could be set going; but then it
had to be used for the thermograph, the mechanism of which was broken,
so that no registration was obtained of the humidity of the air.
The resulting registrations are then as follows: from Framheim, one
set of barograms and two sets of thermograms, of which one gives the
temperature of the air and the other the temperature inside the house,
where the barometers and barograph were placed; from the Fram we have
barograms for the whole period from her leaving Christiania, in 1910,
to her arrival at Buenos Aires for the third time, in 1912.
Of course, none of these registrations can be taken into account in
the provisional working out, as they will require many months' work,
which, moreover, cannot be carried out with advantage until we have
ascertained about possible changes of error in the instruments. But
occasional use has been made of them for purposes of checking, and
for supplying the only observation missing in the ten months.
The meteorological station at Framheim was arranged in this way:
the barometers, barograph, and one thermograph hung inside the house;
they were placed in the kitchen, behind the door of the living-room,
which usually stood open, and thus protected them from the radiant heat
of the range. A thermometer, a hygrometer, and the other thermograph
were placed in a screen on high posts, and with louvred sides,
which stood at a distance of fifteen yards to the south-west of the
house. A little way beyond the screen, again, stood the wind-vane and
anemometer. At the end of September the screen had to be moved a few
yards to the east; the snow had drifted about it until it was only 2
1/2 feet above the surface, whereas it ought to stand at the height
of a man. At the same time the wind-vane was moved. The screen was
constructed by Lindström from his recollection of the old Fram screen.
The two mercury barometers, the Fuess normal, and the Adie standard
barometer, reached Framheim in good condition; as has been said, they
were hung in the kitchen, and the four pocket aneroids were hung by
the side of them. All six were read at the daily observations at 8
a.m., 2 p.m., and 8 p.m. The normal barometer, the instructions for
which were missing, was used as a siphon barometer, both the mercury
levels being read, and the bottom screw being locked fast; the usual
mode of reading it, on the other hand, is to set the lower level at
zero on the scale by turning the bottom screw at every observation,
whereupon the upper level only is set and read. The Adie standard
barometer is so arranged that it is only necessary to read the summit
of the mercury. It appears that there is some difference between
the atmospheric pressure values of the two instruments, but this is
chiefly due to the difficult and extremely variable conditions of
temperature. There may be a difference of as much as five degrees
(Centigrade) between the thermometers of the two barometers, in
spite of their hanging side by side at about the same height from
the floor. On the other hand, the normal barometer is not suited to
daily observations, especially in the Polar regions, and the double
reading entails greater liability of error. That the Adie barometer
is rather less sensitive than the other is of small importance, as
the variations of atmospheric pressure at Framheim were not very great.
In the provisional working out, therefore, the readings of the Adie
barometer alone have been used; those of the normal barometer,
however, have been experimentally reduced for the first and last
months, April and January. The readings have been corrected for the
temperature of the mercury, the constant error of the instrument,
and the variation of the force of gravity from the normal in latitude
45°. The reduction to sea-level, on the other hand, has not been made;
it amounts to 1.1 millimetre at an air temperature of -10° Centigrade.
The observations show that the pressure of the atmosphere is
throughout low, the mean for the ten months being 29.07 inches
(738.6 millimetres). It is lower in winter than in summer, July
having 28.86 inches (733.1 millimetres), and December 29.65 inches
(753.3 millimetres), as the mean for the month, a difference of
20.2 millimetres. The highest observation was 30.14 inches (765.7
millimetres) on December 9, and the lowest 28.02 inches (711.7
millimetres) on May 24, 1911; difference, 54 millimetres.
Air Temperature and Thermometers.
As has already been stated, minimum thermometers and mercury sling
thermometers were wanting. For the first six months only toluene sling
thermometers were used. Sling thermometers are short, narrow glass
thermometers, with a strong loop at the top; before being read they
are briskly swung round at the end of a string about half a yard long,
or in a special apparatus for the purpose. The swinging brings the
thermometer in contact with a great volume of air, and it therefore
gives the real temperature of the air more readily than if it were
hanging quietly in the screen.
From October 1 a mercury thermometer was also placed in the screen,
though only one divided to whole degrees; those divided to fifths
of a degree would, of course, have given a surer reading. But it is
evident, nevertheless, that the toluene thermometers used are correct
to less than half a degree (Centigrade), and even this difference
may no doubt be explained by one thermometer being slung while the
other was fixed. The observations are, therefore, given without any
corrections. Only at the end of December was exclusive use made of
mercury thermometers. The maximum thermometers taken proved of so
little use that they were soon discarded; the observations have not
been included here.
It was due to a misunderstanding that mercury thermometers were
not also used in the first half-year, during those periods when
the temperature did not go below the freezing-point of mercury
(-89° C.). But the toluene thermometers in use were old and good
instruments, so that the observations for this period may also be
regarded as perfectly reliable. Of course, all the thermometers had
been carefully examined at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, and
at Framheim the freezing-point was regularly tested in melting snow.
The results show that the winter on the Barrier was about 19.°
C. (21.6° F.) colder than it usually is in McMurdo Sound, where
the British expeditions winter. The coldest month is August, with a
mean temperature of -44.5° C. (-48.1° F.); on fourteen days during
this month the temperature was below -50° C. (-58° F.). The lowest
temperature occurred on August 13: -58.5° C. (-73.3° F.); the warmest
day in that month had a temperature of -24° C. (-11.2° F.).
In October spring begins to approach, and in December the temperature
culminates with a mean for the month of -6.6° C. (+2O.l° F.), and a
highest maximum temperature of -0.2° C. (+31.6° F.). The temperature
was thus never above freezing-point, even in the warmest part of
The daily course of the temperature -- warmest at noon and coldest
towards morning -- is, of course, not noticeable in winter, as the
sun is always below the horizon. But in April there is a sign of it,
and from September onward it is fairly marked, although the difference
between 2 p.m. and the mean of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. only amounts to 2°
C. in the monthly mean.
Humidity of the Air.
For determining the relative humidity of the air the expedition
had two of Russeltvedt's torsion hygrometers. This instrument has
been accurately described in the Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 1908,
p. 396. It has the advantage that there are no axles or sockets to
be rusted or soiled, or filled with rime or drift-snow.
The two horsehairs (h, h') that are used, are stretched tight by a
torsion clamp (Z, Z', and L), which also carries the pointer; the
position of the pointer varies with the length of the hairs, which,
again, is dependent on the degree of humidity of the air. (See the
diagrams.) These instruments have been in use in Norway for several
years, especially at inland stations, where the winter is very cold,
and they have shown themselves superior to all others in accuracy and
durability; but there was no one on the Fram who knew anything about
them, and there is therefore a possibility that they were not always
in such good order as could be wished. On September 10, especially,
the variations are very remarkable; but on October 13 the second
instrument, No. 12, was hung out, and there can be no doubt of the
correctness of the subsequent observations.
It is seen that the relative humidity attains its maximum in winter,
in the months of July and August, with a mean of 90 per cent. The
driest air occurs in the spring month of November, with a mean of
73 per cent. The remaining months vary between 79 and 86 per cent.,
and the mean of the whole ten months is 82 per cent. The variations
quoted must be regarded as very small. On the other hand, the figures
themselves are very high, when the low temperatures are considered,
and this is doubtless the result of there being open water not very
far away. The daily course of humidity is contrary to the course of the
temperature, and does not show itself very markedly, except in January.
The absolute humidity, or partial pressure of aqueous vapour in the
air, expressed in millimetres in the height of the mercury in the
same way as the pressure of the atmosphere, follows in the main the
temperature of the air. The mean value for the whole period is only 0.8
millimetre (0.031 inch); December has the highest monthly mean with
2.5 millimetres (0.097 inch), August the lowest with 0.1 millimetre
(0.004 inch). The absolutely highest observation occurred on December
5 with 4.4 millimetres (0.173 inch), while the lowest of all is less
than 0.05 millimetre, and can therefore only be expressed by 0.0;
it occurred frequently in the course of the winter.
Any attempt to measure the quantity of precipitation -- even
approximately -- had to be abandoned. Snowfall never occurred in
still weather, and in a wind there was always a drift that entirely
filled the gauge. On June 1 and 7 actual snowfall was observed,
but it was so insignificant that it could not be measured; it was,
however, composed of genuine flakes of snow. It sometimes happened
that precipitation of very small particles of ice was noticed;
these grains of ice can be seen against the observation lantern,
and heard on the observer's headgear; but on returning to the house,
nothing can be discovered on the clothing. Where the sign for snow
occurs in the column for Remarks, it means drift; these days are
included among days of precipitation. Sleet was observed only once,
in December. Rain never.
The figures indicate how many tenths of the visible heavens are covered
by clouds (or mist). No instrument is used in these observations;
they depend on personal estimate. They had to be abandoned during
the period of darkness, when it is difficult to see the sky.
For measuring the velocity of the wind the expedition had a cup
and cross anemometer, which worked excellently the whole time. It
consists of a horizontal cross with a hollow hemisphere on each of
the four arms of the cross; the openings of the hemispheres are all
turned towards the same side of the cross-arms, and the cross can
revolve with a minimum of friction on a vertical axis at the point of
junction. The axis is connected with a recording mechanism, which is
set in motion at each observation and stopped after a lapse of half a
minute, when the figure is read off. This figure denotes the velocity
of the wind in metres per second, and is directly transferred to the
tables (here converted into feet per second).
The monthly means vary between 1.9 metres (6.2 feet) in May, and 5.5
metres (18 feet) in October; the mean for the whole ten months is 3.4
metres (11.1 feet) per second. These velocities may be characterized
as surprisingly small; and the number of stormy days agrees with
this low velocity. Their number for the whole period is only 11,
fairly evenly divided between the months; there are, however, five
stormy days in succession in the spring months October and November.
The frequency of the various directions of the wind has been added
up for each month, and gives the same characteristic distribution
throughout the whole period. As a mean we have the following table,
where the figures give the percentage of the total number of wind
Almost every third direction is E., next to which come S.W. and S. Real
S.E., on the other hand, occurs comparatively rarely. Of N., N. W.,
and W. there is hardly anything. It may be interesting to see what
the distribution is when only high winds are taken into account --
that is, winds with a velocity of 10 metres (32.8 feet) per second
or more. We then have the following table of percentages:
Here again, E. is predominant, as half the high winds come from this
quarter. W. and N.W. together have only 6 per cent.
The total number of high winds is 51, or 5.6 per cent. of the total
of wind observations.
The most frequent directions of storms are also E. and N.E.
The Aurora Australis.
During the winter months auroral displays were frequently seen --
altogether on sixty-five days in six months, or an average of every
third day -- but for want of apparatus no exhaustive observations
could be attempted. The records are confined to brief notes of the
position of the aurora at the times of the three daily observations.
The frequency of the different directions, reckoned in percentages
of the total number of directions given, as for the wind, will be
found in the following table:
N. and N.E. are the most frequent, and together make up one-third of
all the directions recorded; but the nearest points on either side of
this maximum -- E. and N.W. -- are also very frequent, so that these
four points together -- N.W., N., N.E., E. -- have 64 per cent. of
the whole. The rarest direction is S.W., with only 3 per cent. (From
the position of the Magnetic Pole in relation to Framheim, one would
rather have expected E. to be the most frequent, and W. the rarest,
direction.) Probably the material before us is somewhat scanty for
establishing these directions.
Meteorological Record from Framheim.
April, 1911 -- January, 1912.
Height above sea-level, 36 feet. Gravity correction, .072 inch at
29.89 inches. Latitude, 78° 38' S. Longitude, 163° 37' W.
Explanation of Signs in the Tables.
SNOW signifies snow.
MIST ,, mist.
AURORA ,, aurora.
RINGSUN ,, large ring round the sun.
RINGMOON ,, ,, ,, moon.
STORM ,, storm
sq. ,, squalls
a. ,, a.m.
p. ,, p.m.
I., II, III., signify respectively 8 a.m., 2 p.m., and 8 p.m.
° (e.g., SNOW°) signifies slight.
2 (e.g., SNOW2) ,, heavy.
Times of day are always in local time.
The date was not changed on crossing the 180th meridian
Provisional Remarks on the Examination of the Geological Specimens
Brought by Roald Amundsen's South Polar Expedition from the Antarctic
Continent (South Victoria Land and King Edward VII. Land). By
J. Schetelig, Secretary of the Mineralogical Institute of Christiania
The collection of specimens of rocks brought back by Mr. Roald
Amundsen from his South Polar expedition has been sent by him to the
Mineralogical Institute of the University, the Director of which,
Professor W. C. Brögger, has been good enough to entrust to me the
work of examining this rare and valuable material, which gives us
information of the structure of hitherto untrodden regions.
Roald Amundsen himself brought back altogether about twenty specimens
of various kinds of rock from Mount Betty, which lies in lat. 85° 8'
S. Lieutenant Prestrud's expedition to King Edward VII. Land collected
in all about thirty specimens from Scott's Nunatak, which was the only
mountain bare of snow that this expedition met with on its route. A
number of the stones from Scott's Nunatak were brought away because
they were thickly overgrown with lichens. These specimens of lichens
have been sent to the Botanical Museum of the University.
A first cursory examination of the material was enough to show
that the specimens from Mount Betty and Scott's Nunatak consist
exclusively of granitic rocks and crystalline schists. There were
no specimens of sedimentary rocks which, by possibly containing
fossils, might have contributed to the determination of the age of
these mountains. Another thing that was immediately apparent was the
striking agreement that exists between the rocks from these two places,
lying so far apart. The distance from Mount Betty to Scott's Nunatak
is between seven and eight degrees of latitude.
I have examined the specimens microscopically.
From Mount Betty there are several specimens of white granite, with
dark and light mica; it has a great resemblance to the white granites
from Sogn, the Dovre district, and Nordland, in Norway. There is one
very beautiful specimen of shining white, fine-grained granite aplite,
with small, pale red garnets. These granites show in their exterior
no sign of pressure structure. The remaining rocks from Mount Betty
are gneissic granite, partly very rich in dark mica, and gneiss
(granitic schist); besides mica schist, with veins of quartz.
From Scott's Nunatak there are also several specimens of white granite,
very like those from Mount Betty. The remaining rocks from here are
richer in lime and iron, and show a series of gradual transitions
from micacious granite, through grano-diorite to quartz diorite,
with considerable quantities of dark mica, and green hornblende. In
one of the specimens the quantity of free quartz is so small that the
rock is almost a quartz-free diorite. The quartz diorites are: some
medium-grained, some coarse-grained (quartz-diorite-pegmatite), with
streaks of black mica. The schistose rocks from Scott's Nunatak are
streaked, and, in part, very fine-grained quartz diorite schists. Mica
schists do not occur among the specimens from this mountain.
Our knowledge of the geology of South Victoria Land is mainly due to
Scott's expedition of 1901 -- 1904, with H. T. Ferrar as geologist,
and Shackleton's expedition of 1907 -- 08, with Professor David
and R. Priestley as geologists. According to the investigations of
these expeditions, South Victoria Land consists of a vast, ancient
complex of crystalline schists and granitic rocks, large extents
of which are covered by a sandstone formation ("Beacon Sandstone,"
Ferrar), on the whole horizontally bedded, which is at least 1,500 feet
thick, and in which Shackleton found seams of coal and fossil wood (a
coniferous tree). This, as it belongs to the Upper Devonian or Lower
Carboniferous, determines a lower limit for the age of the sandstone
formation. Shackleton also found in lat. 85° 15' S. beds of limestone,
which he regards as underlying and being older than the sandstone. In
the limestone, which is also on the whole horizontally bedded,
only radiolaria have been found. The limestone is probably of older
Palæozoic age (? Silurian). It is, therefore, tolerably certain that
the underlying older formation of gneisses, crystalline schists and
granites, etc., is of Archæan age, and belongs to the foundation rocks.
Volcanic rocks are only found along the coast of Ross Sea and on
a range of islands parallel to the coast. Shackleton did not find
volcanic rocks on his ascent from the Barrier on his route towards
the South Pole.
G. T. Prior, who has described the rocks collected by Scott's
expedition, gives the following as belonging to the complex
of foundation rocks: gneisses, granites, diorites, banatites,
and other eruptive rocks, as well as crystalline limestone, with
chondrodite. Professor David and R. Priestley, the geologists of
Shackleton's expedition, refer to Ferrar's and Prior's description
of the foundation rocks, and state that according to their own
investigations the foundation rocks consist of banded gneiss, gneissic
granite, grano-diorite, and diorite rich in sphene, besides coarse
crystalline limestone as enclosures in the gneiss.
This list of the most important rocks belonging to the foundation
series of the parts of South Victoria Land already explored agrees so
closely with the rocks from Mount Betty and Scott's Nunatak, that there
can be no doubt that the latter also belong to the foundation rocks.
From the exhaustive investigations carried out by Scott's and
Shackleton's expeditions it appears that South Victoria Land is a
plateau land, consisting of a foundation platform, of great thickness
and prominence, above which lie remains, of greater or less extent,
of Palæozoic formations, horizontally bedded. From the specimens of
rock brought home by Roald Amundsen's expedition it is established that
the plateau of foundation rocks is continued eastward to Amundsen's
route to the South Pole, and that King Edward VII. Land is probably
a northern continuation, on the eastern side of Ross Sea, of the
foundation rock plateau of South Victoria Land.
September 26, 1912.
The Astronomical Observations at the Pole
Note by Professor H. Geelmuyden
September 16, 1912.
When requested this summer to receive the astronomical observations
from Roald Amundsen's South Pole Expedition, for the purpose of working
them out, I at once put myself in communication with Mr. A. Alexander
(a mathematical master) to get him to undertake this work, while
indicating the manner in which the materials could be best dealt
with. As Mr. Alexander had in a very efficient manner participated in
the working out of the observations from Nansen's Fram Expedition,
and since then had calculated the astronomical observations from
Amundsen's Gjöa Expedition, and from Captain Isachsen's expeditions
to Spitzbergen, I knew by experience that he was not only a reliable
and painstaking calculator, but that he also has so full an insight
into the theoretical basis, that he is capable of working without
being bound down by instructions.
(Signed) H. Geelmuyden,
Professor of Astronomy,
The Observatory of the University,
Mr. Alexander's Report.
Captain Roald Amundsen,
At your request I shall here give briefly the result of my examination
of the observations from your South Pole Expedition. My calculations
are based on the longitude for Framheim given to me by Lieutenant
Prestrud, 163° 37' W. of Greenwich. He describes this longitude
as provisional, but only to such an extent that the final result
cannot differ appreciably from it. My own results may also be somewhat
modified on a final treatment of the material. But these modifications,
again, will only be immaterial, and, in any case, will not affect
the result of the investigations given below as to the position of
the two Polar stations.
At the first Polar station, on December 15, 1911, eighteen altitudes of
the sun were taken in all with each of the expedition's sextants. The
latitude calculated from these altitudes is, on an average of both
sextants, very near 89° 54', with a mean error of +-2'. The
longitude calculated from the altitudes is about
7t (105°) E.; but, as might be expected in this high latitude,
the aberrations are very considerable. We may, however, assume with
great certainty that this station lies between lat. 89° 52' and 89°
56' S., and between long. 90° and 120° E.
The variation of the compass at the first Polar station was determined
by a series of bearings of the sun. This gives us the absolute
direction of the last day's line of route. The length of this line
was measured as five and a half geographical miles. With the help of
this we are able to construct for Polheim a field of the same form
and extent as that within which the first Polar station must lie.
At Polheim, during a period of twenty-four hours (December 16 --
17), observations were taken every hour with one of the sextants. The
observations show an upper culmination altitude of 28° 19.2', and a
resulting lower culmination altitude of 23° 174'. These combining the
above two altitudes, an equal error on the same side in each will
have no influence on the result. The combination gives a latitude
of 89° 58.6'. That this result must be nearly correct is confirmed
by the considerable displacement of the periods of culmination
which is indicated by the series of observations, and which in the
immediate neighbourhood of the Pole is caused by the change in the
sun's declination. On the day of the observations this displacement
amounted to thirty minutes in 89° 57', forty-six minutes in 89° 58',
and over an hour and a half in 89° 59'. The upper culmination occurred
so much too late, and the lower culmination so much too early. The
interval between these two periods was thus diminished by double the
amount of the displacements given. Now the series of observations
shows that the interval between the upper and the lower culmination
amounted at the most to eleven hours; the displacement of the periods
of culmination was thus at least half an hour. It results that Polheim
must lie south of 89° 57', while at the same time we may assume that
it cannot lie south of 89° 59'. The moments of culmination could,
of course, only be determined very approximately, and in the same way
the observations as a whole are unserviceable for the determination
of longitude. It may, however, be stated with some certainty that
the longitude must be between 30° and 75° E. The latitude, as already
mentioned, is between 89° 57' and 89° 59', and the probable position
of Polheim may be given roughly as lat. 89° 58.5' S., and long. 60° E.
On the accompanying sketch-chart the letters abcd indicate the field
within which the first Polar station must lie; ABCD is the field which
is thereby assigned to Polheim; EFGH the field within which Polheim
must lie according to the observations taken on the spot itself; P
the probable position of Polheim, and L the resulting position of the
first Polar station. The position thus assigned to the latter agrees as
well as could be expected with the average result of the observations
of December 15. According to this, Polheim would be assumed to lie
one and a half geographical miles, or barely three kilometres, from
the South Pole, and certainly not so much as six kilometres from it.
From your verbal statement I learn that Helmer Hanssen and Bjaaland
walked four geographical miles from Polheim in the direction taken to
be south on the basis of the observations. On the chart the letters
efgh give the field within which the termination of their line of route
must lie. It will be seen from this that they passed the South Pole
at a distance which, on the one hand, can hardly have been so great
as two and a half kilometres, and on the other, hardly so great as two
kilometres; that, if the assumed position of Polheim be correct, they
passed the actual Pole at a distance of between 400 and 600 metres;
and that it is very probable that they passed the actual Pole at a
distance of a few hundred metres, perhaps even less.
I am, etc.,
(Signed) Anton Alexander.
September 22, 1912.
Remarks of the Oceanographical Investigation carried out by the "Fram"
in the North Atlantic in 1910 and in the South Atlantic in 1911. By
Professor Björn Helland-Hansen and Professor Fridtjof Nansen
In the earliest ages of the human race the sea formed an absolute
barrier. Men looked out upon its immense surface, now calm and
bright, now lashed by storms, and always mysteriously attractive;
but they could not grapple with it. Then they learned to make boats;
at first small, simple craft, which could only be used when the sea
was calm. But by degrees the boats were made larger and more perfect,
so that they could venture farther out and weather a storm if it
came. In antiquity the peoples of Europe accomplished the navigation
of the Mediterranean, and the boldest maritime nation was able to
sail round Africa and find the way to India by sea. Then came voyages
to the northern waters of Europe, and far back in the Middle Ages
enterprising seamen crossed from Norway to Iceland and Greenland and
the north-eastern part of North America. They sailed straight across
the North Atlantic, and were thus the true discoverers of that ocean.
Even in antiquity the Greek geographers had assumed that the greater
part of the globe was covered by sea, but it was not till the beginning
of the modern age that any at all accurate idea arose of the extent of
the earth's great masses of water. The knowledge of the ocean advanced
with more rapid steps than ever before. At first this knowledge
only extended to the surface, the comparative area of oceans, their
principal currents, and the general distribution of temperature. In
the middle of the last century Maury collected all that was known,
and drew charts of the currents and winds for the assistance of
navigation. This was the beginning of the scientific study of the
oceanic waters; at that time the conditions below the surface were
still little known. A few investigations, some of them valuable, had
been made of the sea fauna, even at great depths, but very little
had been done towards investigating the physical conditions. It
was seen, however, that there was here a great field for research,
and that there were great and important problems to be solved; and
then, half a century ago, the great scientific expeditions began,
which have brought an entire new world to our knowledge.
It is only forty years since the Challenger sailed on the first
great exploration of the oceans. Although during these forty years
a quantity of oceanographical observations has been collected with a
constant improvement of methods, it is, nevertheless, clear that our
knowledge of the ocean is still only in the preliminary stage. The
ocean has an area twice as great as that of the dry land, and it
occupies a space thirteen times as great as that occupied by the
land above sea-level. Apart from the great number of soundings for
depth alone, the number of oceanographical stations -- with a series
of physical and biological observations at various depths -- is very
small in proportion to the vast masses of water; and there are still
extensive regions of the ocean of the conditions of which we have
only a suspicion, but no certain knowledge. This applies also to the
Atlantic Ocean, and especially to the South Atlantic.
Scientific exploration of the ocean has several objects. It seeks to
explain the conditions governing a great and important part of our
earth, and to discover the laws that control the immense masses of
water in the ocean. It aims at acquiring a knowledge of its varied
fauna and flora, and of the relations between this infinity of
organisms and the medium in which they live. These were the principal
problems for the solution of which the voyage of the Challenger and
other scientific expeditions were undertaken. Maury's leading object
was to explain the conditions that are of practical importance to
navigation; his investigations were, in the first instance, applied
to utilitarian needs.
But the physical investigation of the ocean has yet another very
important bearing. The difference between a sea climate and a
continental climate has long been understood; it has long been known
that the sea has an equalizing effect on the temperature of the air,
so that in countries lying near the sea there is not so great a
difference between the heat of summer and the cold of winter as on
continents far from the sea-coast. It has also long been understood
that the warm currents produce a comparatively mild climate in high
latitudes, and that the cold currents coming from the Polar regions
produce a low temperature. It has been known for centuries that the
northern arm of the Gulf Stream makes Northern Europe as habitable
as it is, and that the Polar currents on the shores of Greenland and
Labrador prevent any richer development of civilization in these
regions. But it is only recently that modern investigation of the
ocean has begun to show the intimate interaction between sea and
air; an interaction which makes it probable that we shall be able to
forecast the main variations in climate from year to year, as soon
as we have a sufficiently large material in the shape of soundings.
In order to provide new oceanographical material by modern methods,
the plan of the Fram expedition included the making of a number of
investigations in the Atlantic Ocean. In June, 1910, the Fram went
on a trial cruise in the North Atlantic to the west of the British
Isles. Altogether twenty-five stations were taken in this region
during June and July before the Fram's final departure from Norway.
The expedition then went direct to the Antarctic and landed the shore
party on the Barrier. Neither on this trip nor on the Fram's subsequent
voyage to Buenos Aires were any investigations worth mentioning made,
as time was too short; but in June, 1911, Captain Nilsen took the
Fram on a cruise in the South Atlantic and made in all sixty valuable
stations along two lines between South America and Africa.
An exhaustive working out of the very considerable material collected
on these voyages has not yet been possible. We shall here only attempt
to set forth the most conspicuous results shown by a preliminary
Besides the meteorological observations and the collection of
plankton -- in fine silk tow-nets -- the investigations consisted
of taking temperatures and samples of water at different depths The
temperatures below the surface were ascertained by the best modern
reversing thermometers (Richter's); these thermometers are capable
of giving the temperature to within a few hundredths of a degree at
any depth. Samples of water were taken for the most part with Ekman's
reversing water-sampler; it consists of a brass tube, with a valve at
each end. When it is lowered the valves are open, so that the water
passes freely through the tube. When the apparatus has reached the
depth from which a sample is to be taken, a small slipping sinker
is sent down along the line. When the sinker strikes the sampler,
it displaces a small pin, which holds the brass tube in the position
in which the valves remain open. The tube then swings over, and this
closes the valves, so that the tube is filled with a hermetically
enclosed sample of water. These water samples were put into small
bottles, which were afterwards sent to Bergen, where the salinity of
each sample was determined. On the first cruise, in June and July,
1910, the observations on board were carried out by Mr. Adolf Schröer,
besides the permanent members of the expedition. The observations
in the South Atlantic in the following year were for the most part
carried out by Lieutenant Gjertsen and Kutschin.
The Atlantic Ocean is traversed by a series of main currents, which
are of great importance on account of their powerful influence
on the physical conditions of the surrounding regions of sea and
atmosphere. By its oceanographical investigations in 1910 and 1911
the Fram expedition has made important contributions to our knowledge
of many of these currents. We shall first speak of the investigations
in the North Atlantic in 1910, and afterwards of those in the South
Atlantic in 1911.
Investigations in the North Atlantic in June and July, 1910.
The waters of the Northern Atlantic Ocean, to the north of lats. 80°
and 40° N., are to a great extent in drifting motion north-eastward
and eastward from the American to the European side. This drift is
what is popularly called the Gulf Stream. To the west of the Bay
of Biscay the eastward flow of water divides into two branches, one
going south-eastward and southward, which is continued in the Canary
Current, and the other going north-eastward and northward outside
the British Isles, which sends comparatively warm streams of water
both in the direction of Iceland and past the Shetlands and Faroes
into the Norwegian Sea and north-eastward along the west coast of
Norway. This last arm of the Gulf Stream in the Norwegian Sea has
been well explored during the last ten or fifteen years; its course
and extent have been charted, and it has been shown to be subject to
great variations from year to year, which again appear to be closely
connected with variations in the development and habitat of several
important species of fish, such as cod, coal-fish, haddock, etc., as
well as with variations in the winter climate of Norway, the crops,
and other important conditions. By closely following the changes in
the Gulf Stream from year to year, it looks as if we should be able
to predict a long time in advance any great changes in the cod and
haddock fisheries in the North Sea, as well as variations in the
winter climate of North-Western Europe.
But the cause or causes of these variations in the Gulf Stream are at
present unknown. In order to solve this difficult question we must be
acquainted with the conditions in those regions of the Atlantic itself
through which this mighty ocean current flows, before it sends its
waters into the Norwegian Sea. But here we are met by the difficulty
that the investigations that have been made hitherto are extremely
inadequate and deficient; indeed, we have no accurate
(Fig. 1. -- Hypothetical Representation of the Surface Currents in
the Northern Atlantic in April.
After Nansen, in the Internationale Revue der gesamten Hydrobiologie
and Hydrographie, 1912.)
knowledge even of the course and extent of the current in this ocean. A
thorough investigation of it with the improved methods of our time
is therefore an inevitable necessity.
As the Gulf Stream is of so great importance to Northern Europe in
general, but especially to us Norwegians, it was not a mere accident
that three separate expeditions left Norway in the same year, 1910 --
Murray and Hjort's expedition in the Michael Sars, Amundsen's trial
trip in the Fram, and Nansen's voyage in the gunboat Frithjof --
all with the object of investigating the conditions in the North
Atlantic. The fact that on these three voyages observations were
made approximately at the same time in different parts of the
ocean increases their value in a great degree, since they can thus
be directly compared; we are thus able to obtain, for instance,
a reliable survey of the distribution of temperature and salinity,
and to draw important conclusions as to the extent of the currents
and the motion of the masses of water.
Amundsen's trial trip in the Fram and Nansen's voyage in the Frithjof
were made with the special object of studying the Gulf Stream in
the ocean to the west of the British Isles, and by the help of these
investigations it is now possible to chart the current and the extent
of the various volumes of water at different depths in this region
at that time.
A series of stations taken within the same region during Murray
and Hjort's expedition completes the survey, and provides valuable
material for comparison.
After sailing from Norway over the North Sea, the Fram passed through
the English Channel in June, 1910, and the first station was taken on
June 20, to the south of Ireland, in lat. 50° 50' N. and long. 10°
15' W., after which thirteen stations were taken to the westward,
to lat. 58° 16' N. and long. 17° 50' W., where the ship was on June
27. Her course then went in a northerly direction to lat. 57° 59'
N. and long. 15° 8' W., from which point a section of eleven stations
(Nos. 15 -- 25) was made straight across the Gulf Stream to the bank
on the north of Scotland, in lat. 59° 88' N. and long. 4° 44' W. The
voyage and the stations are represented in Fig. 2. Temperatures and
samples of water were taken at all the twenty-four stations at the
following depths: surface, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200,
300, 400, and 500 metres (2.7, 5.4, 10.9, 16.3, 21.8, 27.2, 40.8,
54.5, 81.7, 109, 163.5, 218, and 272.5 fathoms) -- or less, where
the depth was not so great.
The Fram's southerly section, from Station 1 to 13 (see Fig. 3)
is divided into two parts at Station 10, on the Porcupine Bank,
south-west of Ireland. The eastern part, between Stations 1 and 10,
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