In August 1893, the Norwegian polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen witnessed a strange phenomenon, which he described as "dead water", off the coast of Siberia. He notes that his schooner Fram ("forward") is sometimes held back by an invisible hand: "In calm weather, and with light cargo, Fram was able to advance at 6 or 7 knots (11 to 13 km / h). When it is in dead water, it cannot exceed 1.5 knots (3 km / h). ” Failing to explain the phenomenon, Nansen still succeeds in identifying the cause: "He has the idea of tasting the water on the surface, and realizes that it is soft, while deeper, thoroughly of hold, it is salty ", says Germain Rousseaux, CNRS researcher and physicist at the Pprime institute (CNRS / University of Poitiers). A difference in salinity caused by the melting of the surrounding sea ice.
Read also: The Arctic Ocean, a shortcut still costly and risky
The phenomenon is one of the mysteries that Nansen submits on his return to his compatriot Wilhelm Bjerknes, a great pioneer in meteorology. One of his
This article is for subscribers only. You still have 79% to discover.
Subscribe: € 1 for 2 months
Cancelable at any timeEnter your email
Already subscribed? Log in