The South Pole, known as the Terrestrial South Pole or the Geographic South Pole, is the southernmost point on Earth. This area lies on the opposite side of the North Pole. It is situated at the intersection of the Earth’s surface with the axis of rotation, also called the Earth’s rotational axis.
The South Pole is located in the continent of Antarctica, which is the southernmost continent on the planet. The South Pole is situated at the center of the Southern Hemisphere. So, in this article, we will explore some really amazing facts about the South Pole.
Facts About South Pole
This place was undiscovered till 1911:
The South Pole was first discovered in 1911 by a Norwegian explorer named Roald Amundsen. He led an expedition team to the South Pole on December 14, 1911. Before Amundsen, several other explorers attempted to reach the South Pole but were unsuccessful.
The South Pole is in Antarctica and the famous Amundsen-Scott South Pole station site. This station was established and permanently staffed in 1956.
The time zone at the South Pole:
The South Pole is in a time zone known as the South Pole/Antarctica Time. This time zone is mainly used by researchers and scientists who work at the research stations at the South Pole.
In most cases, the Geographic South Pole is the southern point where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects its surface. However, the Earth’s axis of rotation is subject to minimal polar motion; hence, this definition does not work properly.
It has the magnetic South Pole:
If people are standing at the Magnetic South Pole, then everywhere is north for that person. The South Pole is the geographic South Pole and the magnetic South Pole. Our Earth’s magnetic field converged at the South Pole, making it a vital location for studying its magnetic field.
Exploration History of the South Pole:
The exploration of the South Pole has a fascinating and long history. The first recorded sighting of Antarctica was by a Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarvin in 1820.
In 1841, British explorer James Clark Ross discovered the Ross Sea and the Ross Ice Shelf near the South Pole.
The Attempt of Robert Falcon Scoot:
1901-1904, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott first attempted to look for a route from the Antarctic coastline to the South Pole. On his Discovery Expedition, he was accompanied by Ernest Shackleton and Edward Wilson.
They set out to travel as far south as possible and reach 82 degrees 16 inches south.
Shackleton returned to Antarctica as the leader of the Nimrod Expedition, thinking about reaching the Pole. However, in 1909, he reached 88 degrees 23 inches South, almost 180 km from the Pole, before being forced to return.
The first person to land in Antarctica:
The first person who reached the Geographic South Pole was Roald Amundsen and his team on 14 December 1911. He named his camp Polheim.
When Robert Falcon Scott returned to Antarctica with his Terra Nova Expedition, he was unaware of Amundsen’s expedition.
Scott reached the South Pole on January 1912, and his four men died of extreme cold and starvation on his return trip.
The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition:
In 1914, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition started to cross Antarctica through the South Pole. However, his ship, the Endurance, froze in the pack ice and sank after 11 months. So, this overland journey was unsuccessful.
The Exploration of Richard E. Byrd:
In 1928, American explorer Richard E. Byrd led an expedition to Antarctica and established a base at the South Pole. Byrd’s expedition also conducted scientific research and made important discoveries about Antarctica.
US Admiral Richard E. Byrd and his first pilot, Bernt Balchen, were the first to fly over the South Pole on 29 November 1929.
The expedition during the 1950s and 1960s:
During the 1950s and 1960s, there was a vital increase in exploration and scientific research in Antarctica. Some countries established research stations in Antarctica, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.
It was not until 31st October 1956 that people again set foot at the South Pole.
The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station:
1957 the International Geophysical Year, was declared, marking a significant period of scientific research and international cooperation in Antarctica. During this time period, several countries established a research station at the South Pole, including the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
After Amundsen and Scott, people who reached the South Pole overland were Vivian Fuchs and Edmund Hillary during the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
Also, in 1969, the first group of women who reached the South Pole was Lois Jones, Jean Pearson, Pam Young, Kay Lindsay, and Terry Tickhill.
The harsh climate at the South Pole:
The South Pole is well-known for its harsh climate. It is one of the driest and coldest on Earth. The average temperature at this place is minus 56.5 degrees Celsius or 69.7 degrees Fahrenheit. This place’s coldest temperature was recorded as minus 82.8 degrees Celsius or 117 degrees Fahrenheit.
The South Pole is colder than the North Pole, mainly due to the elevation difference and location in the middle of a continent. The North Pole is just a few feet from sea level and in the middle of the ocean.
It is one of the most inaccessible places:
The South Pole is one of the most inaccessible places on Earth. It is situated in the middle of Antarctica, a very remote and difficult-to-reach location. The South Pole can only be reached by air, and even then, only during specific times of the year when the weather is favorable.
Moreover, though the South Pole is located at an altitude of 2800 m or 9200 feet, it still feels like 3400 m or 11,000 feet. The Centrifugal force developed from the planet’s spin pulls the atmosphere towards the equator.
There is no sunlight during winter:
During the winter months, like from May to August, the South Pole receives no sunlight. Thus, it remains completely dark apart from the moonlight. However, during the summer months, like from November to February, the Sun continuously remains above the horizon and appears to shift in a counter-clockwise circle.
However, much of the sunlight that can reach the surface is getting reflected by the white snow. This lack of warmth and the high altitude makes the South Pole one of the coldest places on Earth.
It is a politically neutral place:
The South Pole is a politically neutral location. The Antarctic Treaty System governs it, signed in 1959 by 12 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and even the Soviet Union.
This Treaty established the South Pole as a scientific preserve and banned military activity and mineral exploration in the region.
Also, The South Pole has no indigenous population. The only people who live in this place are researchers and scientists who work at the research stations at the South Pole.
Flora and fauna at the South Pole:
Due to its extreme and harsh weather conditions, there are no native resident animals or plants at the South Pole. However, you can see south polar skuas and snow petrels there occasionally.
However, some types of animals you can see in Antarctica are leopard seals, Chinstrap penguins, Adelie penguins, Elephant seals, Emperor penguins, Killer whales, and even the largest and loudest animal, known as the Blue whale.
The flora of Antarctica mainly includes freshwater algae, fungi, mosses, lichens, and just two species of vascular plants.
The ice sheet at the South Pole:
The South Pole is on top of the Antarctic ice sheet, the largest ice sheet on Earth. In some places, the ice sheet is up to 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers thick and contains about 70% of the Earth’s fresh water.
It is a desert-like place:
The South Pole of the Earth has an ice cap climate. It is just like a desert, with very little amount of precipitation. Here the air humidity is almost zero. However, here the winds are very high and can cause the blowing of snowfall. Also, here the accumulation of snow amounts to almost 2.8 in or 7 cm per year.
It is home to the largest icebergs:
In March 2000, the largest iceberg broke away from the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica. Known as B-15, it was almost 37 km wide and 270 km long. Hence, it is larger than several of the island states of the world.
After 18 years, it started drifting north into the Atlantic Ocean. However, it broke apart, and only four small icebergs remained.
It is home of the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights:
The South Pole is among the best places to experience the stunning Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights. Aurora Australis is a natural display of light in the Polar Regions. It is caused due to the interaction between several charged particles from the Sun and our Earth’s magnetic field.
Today the South Pole is a fascinating and unique location that amazes all of us with its inaccessibility, extreme weather conditions, mysterious display of lights, and political neutrality.
At the end of this article, we learned about 19 really amazing facts about this remarkable region of the world. These facts give us a clear picture of this place’s interesting and fascinating features. To know more, you may visit our website.
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