Explorations in Translation

August 22, 2023

Thomas Rossby, Emeritus Professor of Oceanography at GSO, has devoted his career to studying ocean circulation, much of it focused on the Gulf Stream. Now, he’s coupling his love for technology and science with a skill he developed during his childhood in Sweden and as a guest investigator at the University of Stockholm since 1995: translation! 

Rossby has recently contributed two translations, one from Norwegian and the other from Swedish, to the GSO website and beyond: 

When the Gulf Stream was commandeered, 1910

This short fictional story depicting a new ice age over Sweden reflects widespread public awareness of the Gulf Stream’s role in the European climate. Rossby translated this piece from the Swedish original by Erik ‘Mac’ Nyblom, a Swedish journalist and author. Read the translation here. 

“This is my first time translating something like this,” Rossby shared. “I grew up bilingual, English at home, Swedish in school. Swedes can read Norwegian, but this text took more effort because the document is nearly 100 years old, making some of the language a bit dated with old nautical terms.”

Conrad Holmboe goes out through ice edge.

Conrad Holmboe’s drift in the Greenland Ice, 1923 

Translated from the Norwegian, this first-person account of motorboat Conrad Holmboe’s drift in the Greenland ice describes an expedition that Rossby’s father, meteorologist Carl-Gustaf Rossby, participated in and shows “what a ship can take and what people can accomplish when they fight for their lives.”

“My father wouldn’t talk about it. He only mentioned he was on this expedition once, when I was 15 years old,” Rossby said. In 2018, a colleague of Rossby’s in Sweden gave him a photocopy of the book chapter. “That opened up my eyes – I had no idea the breadth of this expedition that my father had taken part in. I read the book casually, but in 2022 it occurred to me that the 100 year anniversary might make this a story.”

Read the translation here or learn more from The Weather Band.