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Andree's balloon trip to the North Pole was planned on the theory that air currents are continuous. Mr. Andree believed that if he could enter a current blowing toward the pole that current would continue and carry him northward to the pole, then southward from it. His theory was undoubtedly erroneous, as was pointed out by Professor Heilprin and other scientists. He must himself have known of the improbability of his theory.

The ocean currents and air currents are almost identical in their causes and courses, subject to modification by continents and islands, by mountains and plains and the influence of heat.

The atmosphere is as much a part of our globe as is the water.

The ocean currents are fairly well understood. In the Northern Hemisphere the cold currents flow from the Polar region southward, their courses being determined by the earth's motion and by the contour of the land and by the irregularities of the sea bottom. The earth's motion of (approximately) seventeen miles per minute accelerates the southern flow of the waters which have been piled up and warmed on the equatorial belt. The great currents of both oceans are well known, and are charted for a great part of their course. The currents north of the Arctic circle are, in a measure, unknown, but their courses have been approximately determined. Where currents meet an eddy is formed, and this is probably the case at the pole, for there is the source of the currents that flow southward and the terminus of the currents flowing northward.

It is an accepted fact that the motion of the earth has caused its flattening at the poles, and if that is true, it must also be true that the waters and air are still subject to that influence, and that this motion is the primary cause of ocean currents and air currents. Corresponding with the ocean currents are the wind currents -- the trade winds representing the constant currents.

The surface wind which comes from the pole is modified and turned from its course by mountains and plains, being a hurricane here, a tornado there, and again a gentle breeze, but the atmospheric course is always south, diverted to the west by the motion of the earth, until it meets the current from the south, which produce there a calm (an atmospheric eddy), and the current flows upward and back to the pole.

At the pole the currents from another eddy sink to the earth and start on their return.

If the current in which Andree started was continuous for the nearly 600 miles he had to travel; if it was not turned aside by the mountains; if, when he reached a point 150 or 200 miles from the pole (where the sun's rays had warmed the surface and the air for several weeks), his balloon was not sent high above the pole and grasped by a swirl of wind, he probably saw the pole, but his life is probably the price of the knowledge he gained.

There is possibly a temperate climate at the pole. The sun, the heat from the interior of the earth, the ocean currents and the wind currents all unite to produce a temperate zone, and if land is there, which is probable, and Andree was fortunate enough to make a safe landing, he will gratify his curiosity, and in months or years a message may come from him from the sea -- carried by the currents -- but Andree will never recross the ice barrier which has, thus far, bid defiance to human endurance.

Or when the mystery of the North has been solved, as solved it will be, some explorer may find the remains of the Andree expedition, but Andree will never tell the story of his journey to the North Pole.

Reproduced with permission: L.L. Dyche, Explorations (Newspaper Clippings Related to Polar Exploration), Vol. 1 & 2. University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS.


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Original Source:

Philadelphia Call, Philadelphia, PA. Aug. 9, 1897

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Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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