South Pole: Wikis

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Coordinates: 90°S 0°W / 90°S 0°W / -90; -0

This article is about the Geographic South Pole. For other uses see South Pole (disambiguation)
Pole-south.gif

The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole. Situated on the continent of Antarctica, it is the site of the United States Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which was established in 1956 and has been permanently staffed since that year. The Geographic South Pole should not be confused with the South Magnetic Pole.

Contents

Geography

The Geographic South Pole
The Ceremonial South Pole

For most purposes, the Geographic South Pole is defined as the southern point of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface (the other being the Geographic North Pole). However, the Earth's axis of rotation is actually subject to very small 'wobbles', so this definition is not adequate for very precise work; see Geographic North Pole for further information.

The geographic coordinates of the South Pole are usually given simply as 90°S, since its longitude is geometrically undefined and irrelevant. When a longitude is desired, it may be given as 0°W. At the South Pole all directions face north. For this reason, directions at the Pole are given relative to "grid north", which points northwards along the prime meridian.[1]

The Geographic South Pole is located on the continent of Antarctica (although this has not been the case for all of Earth's history because of continental drift). It sits atop a featureless, windswept, icy plateau at an altitude of 2,835 meters (9,306 ft), about 1,300 km (800 mi) from the nearest sea at McMurdo Sound. The ice is estimated to be about 2,700 meters (9,000 ft) thick at the Pole, so the land surface under the ice sheet is actually near sea level.[2]

The polar ice sheet is moving at a rate of roughly 10 meters per year in a direction between 37° and 40° west of grid north,[3] down towards the Weddell Sea. Therefore, the position of the station and other artificial features relative to the geographic pole gradually shifts over time.

The Geographic South Pole is marked by a small sign and a stake in the ice pack, which are repositioned each year on New Year's Day to compensate for the movement of the ice.[4] The sign records the respective dates that Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott reached the Pole, followed by a short quotation from each man and gives the elevation as 2,835 m (9,301 ft).[5]

Ceremonial South Pole

The Ceremonial South Pole is an area set aside for photo opportunities at the South Pole Station. It is located a short distance from the Geographic South Pole, and consists of a metallic sphere on a plinth, surrounded by the flags of the Antarctic Treaty signatory states.

Exploration

See also: History of Antarctica, List of Antarctic expeditions, Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration and Farthest South.

Pre-1900

In 1820, several expeditions claimed to have been the first to have sighted Antarctica, with the very first being the Russian expedition led by Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. The first landing was probably just over a year later when American Captain John Davis, a sealer, set foot on the ice.


The basic geography of the Antarctic coastline was not understood until the mid-to-late 19th century. American naval officer Charles Wilkes claimed (correctly) that Antarctica was a new continent based on his exploration in 1839–40,[6] while James Clark Ross, in his expedition of 1839–43, hoped that he might be able to sail all the way to the South Pole (he was unsuccessful).[7]

1900–1950

Amundsen's party at the South Pole, December 1911. From left to right: Amundsen, Hanssen, Hassel and Wisting (photo by fifth member Bjaaland).

The first attempt to find a route from the Antarctic coastline to the South Pole was made by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott on the Discovery Expedition of 1901–04. Scott, accompanied by Ernest Shackleton and Edward Wilson, set out with the aim of travelling as far south as possible, and on 31 December 1902, reached 82°16′ S.[8] Shackleton later returned to Antarctica as leader of the Nimrod Expedition in a bid to reach the Pole. On 9 January 1909, with three companions, he reached 88°23′ S – 112 statute miles from the Pole – before being forced to turn back.[9]

The first humans to reach the Geographic South Pole were Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his party on December 14, 1911. Amundsen named his camp Polheim and the entire plateau surrounding the Pole King Haakon VII Vidde in honour of King Haakon VII of Norway. Robert Falcon Scott had also returned to Antarctica with his second expedition, the Terra Nova Expedition, in a race against Amundsen to the Pole. Scott and four other men reached the South Pole on January 17, 1912, thirty-four days after Amundsen. On the return trip, Scott and his four companions all died of starvation and extreme cold.

In 1914 Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition set out with the goal of crossing Antarctica via the South Pole, but his ship, the Endurance, was frozen in pack-ice and sank 11 months later. The overland journey was never made.

US Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, with the assistance of his first pilot Bernt Balchen, became the first person to fly over the South Pole on November 29, 1929.

1950–present

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The ceremonial pole and flags can be seen in the background, slightly to the left of center, below the tracks behind the buildings. The actual geographic pole is a few more metres to the left. The buildings are raised on stilts to prevent snow buildup.

It was not until 31 October 1956 that humans once again set foot at the South Pole, when a party led by Admiral George J. Dufek of the US Navy landed there in an R4D-5L Skytrain (C-47 Skytrain) aircraft. The US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was established by air over 1956–1957 for the International Geophysical Year and has been continuously staffed since then by research and support personnel.[2]

After Amundsen and Scott, the next people to reach the South Pole overland (albeit with some air support) were Edmund Hillary (January 4, 1958) and Vivian Fuchs (January 19, 1958) and their respective parties, during the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. There have been many subsequent expeditions to arrive at the South Pole by surface transportation, including those by Havola, Crary and Fiennes.

On December 30, 1989, Arved Fuchs and Reinhold Messner were the first to reach the South Pole without animal or motorised help, using only skis and the help of wind.

The fastest unsupported walking journey to the Geographic South Pole from the ocean is 33 days from Hercules Inlet and was set in 2009 by Canadian adventurers Ray Zahab, Richard Weber and Kevin Vallely, who beat the previous record set only a month earlier by American Todd Carmichael of 39 days and seven hours.[10]

Territorial claims

Antarctic territorial claims and Antarctica – Politics.

Climate, and day and night

See also Climate of Antarctica, Midnight sun and Polar night

During the southern winter (March–September), the South Pole receives no sunlight at all, and from May to July, between extended periods of twilight, it is completely dark (apart from moonlight). In the summer (September–March), the sun is continuously above the horizon and appears to move in a counterclockwise circle. However, it is always low in the sky, reaching a maximum of 23° in December. Much of the sunlight that does reach the surface is reflected by the white snow. This lack of warmth from the sun, combined with the high altitude (about 2,800 metres (9,186 ft)), means that the South Pole has one of the coldest climates on Earth (though it is not quite the coldest; that record goes to the region in the vicinity of the Vostok Station, also in Antarctica, which lies at a higher elevation[11]). Temperatures at the South Pole are much lower than at the North Pole, primarily because the South Pole is located at altitude in the middle of a continental land mass, while the North Pole is at sea level in the middle of an ocean (which acts as a reservoir of heat).

In midsummer, as the sun reaches its maximum elevation of about 23.5 degrees, high temperatures at the South Pole average around −25 °C (−12 °F). As the six-month "day" wears on and the sun gets lower, temperatures drop as well: they reach −45 °C (−49 °F) around sunset (late March) and sunrise (late September). In winter, the temperature remains steady at around −65 °C (−85 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was −13.6 °C (7.5 °F: December 27, 1978), and the lowest was −82.8 °C (−117.0 °F: June 23, 1982).[12] (The lowest recorded anywhere on earth was −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) at Vostok Station on July 21, 1983.)

The South Pole has a desert climate, almost never receiving any precipitation. Air humidity is near zero. However, high winds can cause the blowing of snowfall, and the accumulation of snow amounts to about 20 cm per year.[13] The dome seen in the pictures is partially buried due to snow storms, and the entrance to the dome has to be regularly bulldozed to uncover it. More recent buildings are raised on stilts so that the snow does not build up against the sides of them.

Climate data for the South Pole
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) -14
(7)
-20
(-4)
-26
(-15)
-27
(-17)
-30
(-22)
-31
(-24)
-33
(-27)
-32
(-26)
-29
(-20)
-29
(-20)
-18
(-0)
-13
(9)
-13
(9)
Average high °C (°F) -25
(-13)
-37
(-35)
-50
(-58)
-52
(-62)
-53
(-63)
-53
(-63)
-55
(-67)
-55
(-67)
-55
(-67)
-47
(-53)
-36
(-33)
-26
(-15)
-45
(-49)
Daily mean °C (°F) -26
(-15)
-38
(-36)
-52
(-62)
-56
(-69)
-56
(-69)
-57
(-71)
-58
(-72)
-58
(-72)
-58
(-72)
-50
(-58)
-37
(-35)
-26
(-15)
-48
(-54)
Average low °C (°F) -28
(-18)
-42
(-44)
-56
(-69)
-60
(-76)
-61
(-78)
-61
(-78)
-63
(-81)
-62
(-80)
-62
(-80)
-53
(-63)
-39
(-38)
-28
(-18)
-51
(-60)
Record low °C (°F) -41
(-42)
-57
(-71)
-71
(-96)
-75
(-103)
-78
(-108)
-82
(-116)
-80
(-112)
-77
(-107)
-79
(-110)
-71
(-96)
-55
(-67)
-38
(-36)
-82
(-116)
Sunshine hours 558 480 217 0 0 0 0 0 60 434 600 589 2,938
Source: [14] 2009-10-07

Time

In most places on Earth, local time is determined by longitude, such that the time of day is more-or-less synchronised to the position of the sun in the sky (for example, at midday the sun is roughly at its highest). This line of reasoning fails at the South Pole, where the sun rises and sets only once per year, and all lines of longitude, and hence all time zones, converge. There is no a priori reason for placing the South Pole in any particular time zone, but as a matter of practical convenience the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station keeps New Zealand Time. This is because the US flies its resupply missions ("Operation Deep Freeze") out of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Flora and fauna

Due to its exceptionally harsh climate, there are no native resident plants or animals at the South Pole. Remarkably, though, off-course skuas are occasionally seen there.[15]

In 2000 it was reported that microbes had been detected living in the South Pole ice, though scientists think it unlikely that they evolved in Antarctica.[16]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Moving the South Pole", NASA Quest
  2. ^ a b Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs
  3. ^ "Where is the real Pole really?". http://www.southpolestation.com/pole/survey.html. Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  4. ^ "Marker makes annual move", Antarctic Sun. January 8, 2006; McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
  5. ^ Kiefer, Alex (January 1994). "South Pole Marker". http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/photo284509.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  6. ^ Webster's guide to American history, p. 1326, Merriam-Webster, 1971
  7. ^ Science into Policy: Global Lessons from Antarctica, p. 35, Paul Arthur Berkman, 2002
  8. ^ Science into Policy: Global Lessons from Antarctica, p. 37, Paul Arthur Berkman, 2002
  9. ^ Antarctica, p. 24, Paul Simpson-Housley, 1992
  10. ^ The Canadian Press (2009-01-07). "Canadians break speed record trekking to South Pole". thestar.com. http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/563312. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  11. ^ Science question of the week, Goddard Space Flight Center
  12. ^ Your stay at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs
  13. ^ Initial environmental evaluation – development of blue-ice and compacted-snow runways, National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs, April 9, 1993
  14. ^ "South Pole, Antarctica". WeatherBase. http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3?s=90098&refer=&units=metric. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  15. ^ Mark Sabbatini, "Non-human life form seen at Pole", The Antarctic Sun, 5 January 2003.
  16. ^ "Snow microbes found at South Pole", BBC News, 10 July, 2000

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Antarctica : South Pole
The ceremonial South Pole with the geodetic dome station in the background
The ceremonial South Pole with the geodetic dome station in the background

The South Pole is the remote location of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, operated by the United States of America.

Although there's more than one definition of "the South Pole", the most popularly accepted one (and a travel destination) is a fixed location in the southern hemisphere at the Earth's axis of rotation, latitude 90°S (longitude not applicable). Unlike the North Pole, which is nothing but a sheet of ice floating on the surface of the Arctic Ocean, the geographic South Pole is located on solid ground, allowing a permanent research station to be built at the site of the pole itself. Although it was once an elusive goal that took the lives of many explorers, thanks to modern technology, it has been permanently staffed since 1956, and is now a destination of commercial travel expeditions.

"The South Pole" is also defined geomagnetically. This pole drifts around, and since there's nothing particularly interesting about it other than perhaps watching your compass not work, it receives no visitors. There's also a southern pole of inaccessibility, the point in Antarctica farthest from any coastline. This is a fixed location (barring major sea level changes that might redefine coastlines) at 85°50'S 65°47'E, but as the name suggests, travel to this point is generally impractical.

Climate

It's tempting to say that the climate at the South Pole is consistently bone-chilling cold, but it is not. In December it is bone-chilling cold, with an average temperature of around -28℃ (-18℉). In July it is astonishingly bone-chilling cold, with temperatures sagging to -80℃ (-112℉). (Note that there are no "day-time highs" or "night-time lows" in these figures, because the sun only sets and rises once each year.) Snowfall is scarce; since weather systems rarely penetrate into inland Antarctica and because the temperature is often too low, hence its desert status. The existing snow does drift, however, with winds averaging a modest 12 knots. (At these temperatures, calculating wind-chill factors is fairly pointless.) Antarctica is the coldest, windiest continent on Earth and as such an expedition there surely carries a risk of danger. Freak snowstorms and white conditions (both caused by high winds) can affect South Pole expeditions and have buried the ceremonial South Pole markers (they have to be bulldozed out of the snow usually).

Landscape

The terrain around the South Pole is consistently flat. Ice is fluid enough to settle to a flat surface if left undisturbed, and the underlying rock isn't geologically active, nor is there any rainfall to sculpt it.

Get in

Antarctica is (for obvious reasons) the least-visited continent, and the South Pole is (because it is not accessible by sea) the least-visited site in Antarctica that is nominally "open to tourism".

Most expeditions take place in November thru January, during the Antarctic summer/day. They generally launch from Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile, stop at Patriot Hills camp in the Ellsworth Mountains on Antarctica, and make the final leg of the trip by air as a day trip to the Pole itself. Some expeditions drop travelers well short of the Pole, leaving them to finish on the ice.

  • Adventure Network [1]. Offers flights several times a year for a chilly US$35,000 per person. Also offers guided treks by ski to the South Pole. Covering the full 1170km from coast to Pole involves an estimated 65 days of skiing, for about 7-9 hours a day, hauling a sled weighing 110-130 lbs (50-60 kg), and the price for the privilege is US$59,000. Alternatively, you can cheat and fly halfway there with the "Ski the Last Degree" package, in which case you'll ski for only about two weeks and pay a mere US$38,500.
  • Arctic Odysseys. [2]. Offers a 10-day excursion to Antarctica, including a day at the Pole.
  • Icetrek, [3]. Offers a week-long excursion by air with one day at the Pole (US$33,500), and 15- to 25-day expeditions cross-country skiing the last 1 or 2 degress (starting at US$38,500).
  • Northwest Passage, [4]. Offers a two-week expedition skiing the last degree to the Pole. US$37,500.
  • Voyage Concepts, [5]. Offers a two-week excursion by air with one day at the Pole, and a 25-day expedition (including all travel time and stopovers) skiing the last degree to the Pole and flying back. Departs from London by way of Buenos Aires. $42,450 and up.

Get around

The area of interest around the Pole is quite compact, making it easy to get from one part to another on foot. Venturing farther afield should be done on skis or using base transportation.

The current modular elevated station with the ceremonial South Pole behind it and the geodesic dome to the right
The current modular elevated station with the ceremonial South Pole behind it and the geodesic dome to the right
  • There is a ceremonial south pole at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, consisting of a metal sphere on a red and white pole, partially surrounded by the flags of the signatories of the Antarctic Treaty. Although great for photo opportunities, it is actually about 300 meters from the exact loction of the South Pole.
  • The geographic south pole is marked by a simpler rod with a metal head on it, like a large nail. The ice on which the station sits shifts about 10 meters annually, and a new marker is added each year. There is also a sign bearing quotes from the journals of Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott, leaders of the first two successful expeditions to the South Pole. (Scott's party arrived 34 days after Amundsen's, and died on the return trip.)
  • There are three generations of structures at the site: The Old Pole, the original wooden station, built in 1956 and abandoned in 1975, now buried by drifting snow, off-limits for safety reasons. The metallic Geodesic Dome built in the early 1970s, 50 meters wide and 16 meters tall, encloses several modular buildings, partially buried by drifting snow but still in use. The brown Elevated Station begun in 1999, a modular structure built on stilts to prevent snow from accumulating around it. Semicylindrical metal "archways" next to the dome serve as storage, power plant, gym, etc.

Do

There are few formal recreational opportunities at the South Pole.

Eat

Bring your own food

Drink

The South Pole contains one of the planet's largest reserves of fresh water, but it's more than often frozen.

Sleep

Although they are not in the habit of accommodating visitors, the facilities of Amundsen-Scott station can provide shelter in the event that weather prevents you from returning to your base at the end of your day visit.

Stay healthy

All of the health and safety advisories for Antarctica in general apply to the Pole.

Although the ground at the South Pole is close to sea level, the thick ice at that location raises the station to an altitude of 9,300 feet (2,835 meters). And because the earth's rotation causes the atmosphere to thin out at the poles, the air pressure is more like at 11,000 feet. So in addition to preparing for the coldness and dryness of the air, travel to the Pole also requires acclimatization for high-altitude travel. (See the Altitude sickness article for more.) The altitude also makes the danger of UV exposure even greater than at the Antarctic coast.

Get out

Most visitors to the South Pole head north from there.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also south pole

Contents

English

Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA: /ˈsaʊθˌpəʊl/
  • (US) IPA: /ˈsaʊθˌpoʊl/

Noun

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Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

South Pole

  1. (geography) The southernmost point on Earth; that point in Antarctica where Earth's axis of rotation passes through Earth's surface.
  2. (geography) Earth's magnetic south pole.
  3. (geography) Earth's geomagnetic south pole.

Translations

Anagrams


Simple English

The South Pole is the most southern point on the Earth. It is also known as Antarctica.

In fact, there are two main south poles. One is fixed, and one moves around.

The Magnetic North and South Poles are where a magnetic compass points. These poles move from year to year. People can tell they are near these poles by looking at a compass. From the South pole, everywhere is North (but a compass is not reliable very close to the poles)!

The Geographic North and South poles are the poles the earth spins around, the ones people see on a globe where all the north/south lines meet. These poles stay in the same place, and are usually the ones we mean if we just say North or South Pole. People can tell that they are at these poles by looking at the stars (at the poles, a star just circles around at the same height, never dipping to the horizon).

Antarctica, is a very cold place. For many weeks in the middle of winter, the sun never rises. In the middle of summer, late December through late March, the sun never sets.

At the pole itself, there is a six-month winter where the sun never rises. Once the sun does come up, it is the beginning of a six month summer where a person can stand there at any hour on the clock and observe the sun above the horizon appearing to slowly travel counter-clockwise around him.

The South Pole is hard to reach. Unlike the North pole, which is covered by the sea and flat sea-ice, the South Pole is on a mountainous continent. This continent is called Antarctica. It is covered by thick ice (more than a mile thick in the centre). The south Pole is very high up, and is very windy. It is far from places where people live, and ships going there often have to find their way through thick sea ice. Once ashore, land-travelling explorers have to travel more than a thousand miles to get to the pole. They must cross a floating ice shelf, then up onto the ice-covered land, up steep mountain glaciers covered in broken, twisted ice slowly sliding to the sea, and across a high level land ("plateau") covered in ice and swept by strong freezing winds.

Two expeditions in the early years of the century, led by Robert Falcon Scott and then Ernest Shackleton, failed to reach the South Pole, but returned safely. Shackleton turned back quite close to the pole, but it was late in the season and supplies were low. He knew that he would be risking the lives of his men: to his credit, he turned back.

The first men to reach the South Pole were a group from Norway led by Roald Amundsen. They arrived at the Pole on December 14, 1911 and left the Norwegian flag. Amundsen and his men returned home safely. Amundsen's story is one of excellent planning, good leadership, and willingness to learn from others: this made extreme endurance unnecessary, and perhaps made the successful expedition less of a story, and therefore perhaps less famous, than the next one.

The most famous South Pole expedition is perhaps the one that failed badly . This was the British expedition (not just UK, it included people from the British Empire, who at that time were considered British citizens) led by Robert Falcon Scott. Scott and four other men, dragging their equipment on sledges, had hoped to be first to the Pole. When they arrived there, they saw a Norwegian flag. A letter left for Scott showed that Amundsen and his men had beaten them by a month, by using dogs to pull their sledges.

On their journey back from the Pole, Scott's team found that food "dumps" were short of supplies, particularly kerosene. Kerosene was very important: not just for cooking but for melting ice. Once it ran out, they would have no water to drink. One man collapsed and died while walking. Oates knew his frostbitten feet could not carry him back to base, and that he might delay his companions and risk their lives. He committed suicide by walking out of their tent into the cold. Scott and his remaining two companions died of starvation, thirst, and cold - trapped in the tent by bad weather until their supplies ran out. Next spring, the three bodies in the tent were found by a team from the main part of the expedition - who had spent the winter in the expeditions's hut by the sea. Scott's letters to his wife, written in the tent when he knew he was going to die, have just (Jan 2007) been made public.

Apart from Shackleton's expedition to cross the Antarctic (another heroic failure, but Shackleton saved all his men, after a very courageous sea crossing in an open boat, and a crossing of an unknown mountain range while starving and freezing) this was the end of the "heroic" age of exploration. Motors, Planes, Radios, and GPS ensured that following expeditions were never truly "unsupported".

Today there is an American science base at the South Pole. It is named the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to honor the two explorers.

Other pages

krc:Къыбыла полюс


rue:Южный пол


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