Andree and the Wind
Important aspects of Andree's actual journey.
Our current understanding of the winds is much different than Andree’s, which is not surprising because we have a lot more data than he did. When we look at a more modern wind map for the winds in the Summer (July), as shown below, we see that :
- Andree started his journey on July 11, the middle of the summer.
- Andree left from Spitsbergen Island located above the Arctic Circle.
- He chose this location because of the southerly winds there, which he felt would push him north, over the North Pole and into Alaska
- The winds do blow from the south to the north over the island from which Andree departed.
- However, w the winds do not continue blowing in this same direction as you go further north toward the North pole, but change direction. Around the middle of Greenland, you can see they blow almost straight east.
- So, this map would lead us to expect that Andree would first be blown north, but then be pushed toward the east. This is actually what happened, though he was able to continue in a northerly direction slightly longer than might have been anticipated.
Below, you can see the True North Polar map which shows how the winds actually blow in the northern polar region. By looking at this map, which shows the whole polar region, you can quickly see that there was little chance that Andree could have successfully reached the North Pole, no matter where he started. If the balloon had been more airtight and he hadn't run into ice fogs, he would have simply continued to circle the pole. As it was, he was brought down on an ice floe at about 82° 56' N. lat. and 29° 52' E. long. (Gr.).
What Andree should have done:
Our current understanding of the winds tells us that had Andree wanted to be more successful, he would have left in the winter time. By looking at Winter (January) map, shown below, and following the arrows, we can see that he would have been much more likely to end up in Alaska.
Notice that he still would not have gone over the North Pole, but he would have gone further north, and then probably drifted east until he reached Alaska.