Baron Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1832-1901) was an arctic explorer of Finland-Swedish extraction, born in Finland he later chose to settle in Sweden. He most known for the Vega-expedition along the northern coast of Europe and Asia. He was also the uncle of Finnish president Carl Gustaf Mannerheim.
In his youth, having studied for Runeberg, he belonged to liberal, anti-tsarist circles that agitated for Finland's liberation from Russia by the Swedes during the Crimean War, was temporarily expelled from the Imperial Alexander University in Helsinki in 1855, and continued his studies in Berlin.
After having returned to Helsinki and received doctor's degree in 1857 as a scholar of chemistry and geology, specialized in iron and copper-mining, Nordenskiöld was forced to leave Finland, practically as a political refugee, and was deprived of the right of ever holding office in the university of Finland. Speaking Swedish as mother tongue he settled in Stockholm, soon appointed professor and curator of the mineralogical department of the Swedish State Museum.
Nordenskiöld participated in three geological expeditions to Spitsbergen, followed by longer arctic explorations in 1867, 1870, 1872 and 1875, led him to attempt the discovery of the long-sought Northeast Passage. This he accomplished in the voyage of the Vega, navigating for the first time the northern coasts of Europe and Asia. Starting from Karlskrona on June 22, 1878, the Vega doubled Cape Chelyuskin in the following August, and after being frozen in at the end of September near Bering Strait, completed the voyage successfully in the following summer. He edited a monumental record of the expedition in five octavo volumes, and himself wrote a more popular summary in two volumes.
On his return to Sweden he received an enthusiastic welcome, and in April 1880 was made a baron and a commander of the Order of the North Star. In 1883 he visited the east coast of Greenland for the second time, and succeeded in taking his ship through the great ice barrier, a feat attempted in vain during more than three centuries.