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Icebound — the North Pole

by Anne Miltenburg

Thanks to his pioneering polar adventures, Norwegian ice skater, scientist, explorer, diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) had a lifetime of experience testing new survival methods and equipment in the Arctic climate. In an attempt to reach the North Pole, his ship Fram rode the ice currents for two years, sometimes only moving 1.6km (1mi) per day. Naval architect Colin Archer insulated the boat to perfection, using methods closely resembling passive house architecture as it is applied today. The sides of the ship consisted of multiple layers of wooden planks, the spaces between its ribs being filled with a mixture of coal-tar, pitch and sawdust. The rooms inside were additionally insulated, their wood panelling concealing a watertight layer of linoleum backed with layers of felt, pine panels, cork and tarred felt. This proved so effective in keeping them all warm that he confided to his diary (published as Farthest North): ‘I am thinking of having the stove removed altogether; it is only in the way.’

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