Lettre de Fridtjof Nansen au prince Albert du 2 juillet 1898

Lettre de Fridtjof Nansen au prince Albert du 2 juillet 1898



Fridtjof Nansen

Godthaab Lysaker, 2 July 1898

Albert I, Sovereign prince of Monaco

Dear Prince Albert,

Please accept my most hearty thanks for your honoring letters and extremely kind offer to help me in my work by making some special observations in the Nort Ocean.

It was a great delight to learn that Your Highness are going North on an Arctic cruise with the “Princesse Alice” this year, as I know that we will get some highly important and much needed (results) observations from this part of the ocean, some of which I have been specially looking forward for as they are necessary to be able to explain some of conditions found in the North Polar Basin during the drift of the “Fram”.

As I know that your time is precious I shall only draw your attention to some peculiarities in the temperature of the sea in the various depths, which I think it would be a great importance to have carefully reexamined.

Your Highness will probably know that we found comparatively warm water under the cold layer of surface water of the Polar Basin. The section (sector ?) of the enclosed Pl.I will probably give an impression of the average distribution of the temperatures from the surface to the bottom as we found them in the Polar Basin. Between 200m and 500 m the temperatures were from +0.5°C to + 1.15°C. under 500m the temperature gradually and slowly sank with the depth. At 900m it was 0°.0c. At 2000 m about 0.67° to 0.70°c. At 3000m between -0.73 and -0.82°c. At 3.800m – 0.64° C.

Such (?) with very small variations the temperatures in the various depths along the whole route of the “Fram”, and the differences between the series of temperatures taken in the sea to the North of the New Siberian Islands, to the North of Franz Joseph Land, and Spitsbergen are surprisingly small. The conditions this seem to be extremely uniform in that part of the Polar Basin which we have examined.

But if we compare these temperatures with what we know from previous expeditions (The Norwegian North Atlantic Expedition & other expeditions) about the temperatures of the North Ocean between Spitsbergen and Greenland there are some astonishing differences which seem to me very difficult if not impossible to explain at present, and it would certainly be of great interest to get the temperatures of this sea examined again with (modern?) instruments and such splendid outfit as there certainly is onboard the “Princesse Alice”.

Enclosed I send some transverse sections (Pl. II & III) showing the temperatures of the ocean west of Spitsbergen, which will explain more clearly what I Mean. I have called the sections A.B.C.D. On the rough sketch map. Pl.IV it may be seen where the sections are taken. The blue colors indicates water colder the 0°, and the red waters warms than 0° C.

It will be seen that the bulk of warm water (warmer than 0°C) running northward along the west cosat of Spitsbergen is supposed to grow smaller as it comes Northward, in width as well as in depth. It must however, be the continuation of this bulk of Gulfstream water, which we found as warm water under the cold surface water along the whole drift-route of the “Fram”.

It seems to me strange that such a comparatively small bulk of water should have such for reaching effects and be able to travel such a long distance as from Spitsbergen to the New Siberian Islands without losing more warmth, - and I think it would be a great interest to get the limits (breath as well as depth) of this warmer Gulf Stream water carefully examined, I take it as granted that as the same time the salinity of the water (2 mots also ?) will be made subject of research, as in the respect theses also seems to be very interesting conditions.

According to Ryder these should be a similar but much smaller bulk of warm water in a depth of about 100 fathoms along the East-Greenland-Coast (side section A), while there is no such layer of warmer water in the whole ocean between this easters branch ant the branch of the Gulf Stream on the Spitsbergen side. This also seems strange to me, seeing that we found warm water I the depth every where in the Polar Basin, from which all this cold water naturally should originate. It would certainly be important to get series of temperatures taken as fat west and northwest from Spitsbergen as possible in (order?) to get more information, about this matter. Temperatures taken in the sea further South between Norway & Jan Mayen (?) would of course also be important

I may also draw your attention to the strange fact that we never found the temperature in the depth and at the bottom of the deep Polar Basin sink deeper than  0.7° Cand 0.8 ° C or in a single case down to 1.14, while according to previous observations the temperatures in the depth of the sea west of Northern Norway ae constantly below 1.0° C when you came to great depts tan1.700 m and the temperature at the bottom is generally about 1.5, which is nearly a whole deepsea colder that we found it in the North. I can not easily explain why it should be warmer at the bottom near the Pole than further south, and I am afraid these may have been some faults with the instruments or the observations; and it would therefore be a great thing to get new and careful observations with quite reliable instruments in these depths, as we have here to do with features of much importance for the (?) knowledge about the circulation of the ocean.

Finally I should like to mention the rise of the temperatures which I observed near the temperatures bottom of the Polar Basin, and which may be seen in the section PL. I. At 2900 m the temperature was :- 0.76 ° C which was a minimum. 5?) this depth the temperature was slowly risen, towards the bottom where it was – 0.64 ° C (in 3800 m). As Far I know, such rising temperature towards the bottom has not been observed before, but the reason may be that the instruments have not been sufficiently accurate, and I have a suspicion that similar conditions may also be found in other parts of the ocean, and it may be worth while to pay attention to it, may be we have here some features of great importance. It would certainly also be well to have these bottom layers examined with regard to their salinity.

I have now mentioned the features to which I specially wanted to draw your attention, and I hope Your Highness will excuse me that I have expressed myself so fully, on a subject which it perhaps was quite unnecessary for me to mention, as such investigations probably would be made without my help. Still as the occasions was there I could not withstand the temptation to point out the controversies which seem to exist, and though I do not doubt that Your Highness know most of what I have said before, I thought it possible that you have not yet heard much about on hydrographic observations.

This is still one thing which I believe it would be of interest to know more about, in order to explain the circulation of the deep water in the Polar Basin, and that is the depth and length of that (?) ridge which seems to go in northwesterly direction from the Northwest corne of Spitsbergen (about the direction of section D-D in Pl. IV.), but I am afraid the ice will prevent the “Princesse Alice” from coming very far from land in this direction. It is strange coincidence that the depth of the ridge seems to be the same as the depth in which we found the isotherm for 0° C in the Polar Basin.

There are of course many other of your research, the results of which I shall be (?) looking forward for. I shall for instance take much interest in your samples of the bottom sediment from the North. The mud from the bottom of the Polar Basin is remarkably devoid of (lives ?) and organic matter, whilst in the other hand we have found Mangan in it. It is quite different from the  ?clay of the bottom of the Atlantic ocean, but to the North of Spitsbergen there is probably a transition stage to be found.

But I shall not take up your time by writing any further about all this. I am sorry to hear that my comrade Scott-Hansen is not going, he is a nice fellow, but I dare say there have been some difficulties with his military service which have prevented him. I hope, however, Your Highness will get a good and reliable Iceman from Tromsö who knows Spitsbergen well. I told Collet that if I could be of any service by finding one, it would be of course give me much pleasure; but as I have heard no more from him I suppose it is now settled to your satisfaction. The only things I now regret is that your route did not carry you in this direction as I was thus prevented from having the great privilege of making your personal acquaintance, which I have long been looking forward to. But I hope that on some future occasion my fate may be more favorable.

My very best wishes for a pleasant and successful voyage, may there be much open water, or what the whalers call “an open season” which will allow you to get far North and West.

How I wish I could have been in Tromsö instead of this letter to see Your Highness & your magnificent ship.

Believe me, dear Prince Albert, very sincerely Yours

Fridtjof Nansen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Pl. I-IV


Auteur NANSEN Fridtjof
Destinataire Albert Ier de Monaco
Langue Anglais
Nature du document Document écrit manuscrit
Date de création 02/07/1898
Lieu(x) lié(s) Norvège
Fiche vérifiée par Comité Albert Ier
Collection Archives du Musée océanographique
Référence de la source Fonds AMOM Fridtjof NANSEN (1861-1930)
Date de mise en ligne 19/12/2023


Dans cette lettre, le grand explorateur norvégien, qui connaît déjà les hautes latitudes, donne des conseils et encourage le prince dans cette campagne, dont il attend les résultats scientifiques.

Fonds AMOM Fridtjof NANSEN (1861-1930)