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A Proposal for Sailing to the North Pole via the Gulf Steam

Finely executed map of the Polar regions, promoting a French effort to reach the North Pole in the late 1860s, led by French Hydrographer Marie Joseph Gustave Adolphe Lambert.

The map shows the projected explorations routes of the German, English and French expeditions, along with illustrations of currents of the Gulf Stream, which Lambert believed would facilitate an expedition by sea to the North Pole.

Gustave Lambert was a French hydrographer who made significant contributions to the field of cartography and hydrography in the 19th century. Born in 1808, Lambert studied at the École Navale in Brest, France and later became an officer in the French navy. Lambert's career as a hydrographer began in 1831, when he was appointed to lead a team of surveyors to map the coasts of France. Lambert also contributed to the development of new technologies and techniques for mapping the ocean. He was an early adopter of steam power, and used steam-powered ships to conduct his surveys more efficiently. He also developed new methods for determining the depth of the ocean, which allowed him to create more accurate maps.

In 1865, Lambert (1824 –1871) went to sea as a passenger on a French whaling ship bound for the arctic seas. During the voyage the captain died and Lambert took command. He explored the north of the Bering Strait in 1865, during which time he wrote his Lois de l'insolation (Laws of solar irradiance) which was presented to the French Academy of Sciences  in January 1867.  Lambert observed that while sea temperatures were relatively stable in the tropics, they fluctuated much more widely towards the poles. He also observed that icebergs were born on land and died in the ocean, while ice fields were formed and dissolved at sea.

On his return, Lambert began work on the prospect of a French expedition to the North Pole.  Lambert believed that the North Pole could be reached by following the path of the Gulf Stream, and he proposed a plan to the French government to explore this route.  However, Lambert's plan was not accepted by the government, and the expedition was never organized. Despite this setback, Lambert remained interested in the exploration of the North Pole, and continued to study the ocean currents and the geography of the region.