Otto Nordenskiöld

Otto Nordenskiöld
Otto Nordenskiöld

Nils Otto Gustaf Nordenskjöld (December 6, 1869 – June 2, 1928) was a Finnish and Swedish geologist, geographer, and polar explorer.



Nordenskjöld was born in Hässelby in Småland in eastern Sweden, in a Finland Swedish family that included his maternal uncle Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (a noted polar explorer) and cousin Gustaf Nordenskiöld. His father and mother were cousins, but his father's family name was "Nordenskjöld", while his mother's family name was spelled "Nordenskiöld".

He studied at Uppsala University, obtaining a doctorate in geology in 1894,[1] and later became a lecturer and then associate professor in the university's geology department.[2]

Otto Nordenskjöld led mineralogical expeditions to Patagonia in the 1890s, and to Alaska and the Klondike area in 1898.

He led the 1901-1904 Swedish Antarctic Expedition, aboard the ship Antarctic. The expedition visited the Falkland Islands before the ship, commanded by seasoned Antarctic sailer Carl Anton Larsen, dropped Nordenskjöld's party off at Snow Hill Island, a small island off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Nordenskiöld overwintered at Snow Hill Island, while Antarctic returned to the Falklands. The following summer Larsen brought her south, intending to retrieve the Nordenskiöld party, but she became trapped in ice which eventually crushed her hull, forcing Larsen and his crew to overwinter in a hastily-constructed shelter on Paulet Island. Larsen and Nordenskjöld finally rendezvoused at their fall-back rescue hut at Hope Bay in late 1903, where they were picked up by the Argentine Navy corvette ARA Uruguay (commanded by Julián Irízar), which had been dispatched when Antarctic had failed to make her appointed return to South America the previous year. Despite its end and the great hardships endured, the expedition was considered a scientific success, with the parties having explored much of the eastern coast of Graham Land, including Cape Longing, James Ross Island, the Joinville Island group, and the Palmer Archipelago. The expedition, which also recovered valuable geological samples and samples of marine animals, earned Nordenskjöld lasting fame at home, but its huge cost left him greatly in debt.

In 1905 he was appointed professor of geography (with commercial geography) and ethnography at University of Gothenburg.[3]

Nordenskjöld later explored Greenland in 1909 and returned to South America to explore Chile and Peru in the early 1920s (many samples from this expedition are now displayed at the Natural History Museum in Lima). He was killed in a traffic accident at the age of 59, when he was hit by a bus, in Gothenburg where he was also buried.[citation needed]

Nordenskjöld also studied the effects of winter on alpine climate,[citation needed] and his formula[clarification needed] is one of the means used to classify the polar climatic zone.

Lago Nordenskjöld in southern Chile.


A number of geographical features have been named after Otto Nordenskiöld, including:


  • Antarctica: Or, Two years amongst the ice of the South Pole ISBN 0208016422
  • S A Duse (1905), Bland pingvinar ock sälar, minnen från Svenska sydpolarexpeditionen 1901-03.


  1. ^ Project Runeberg biography
  2. ^ biography
  3. ^ "Major Events in the history of the department" Department of Human and Economic Geography, Gothenburg University, retrieved April 28, 2006

External links

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