Wednesday, March 30, 2011

North Pole

The earth is home to two North Poles located in the Arctic region - a geographic North Pole and a magnetic North Pole.

Geographic North Pole
The northernmost point on the earth's surface is the geographic North Pole, also known as true north. It's located at 90° North latitude and all lines of longitude converge at the pole. The earth's axis connects the north and south poles, as its the line around which the earth rotates.
The North Pole is about 450 miles (725 km) north of Greenland in the middle of the Arctic Ocean - the sea there has a depth of 13,410 feet (4087 meters). Most of the time, sea ice covers the North Pole but recently, water has been sighted at the exact location of the pole.

If you're standing at the North Pole, all points are south of you (east and west have no bearing). Since the earth's rotation takes place once every 24 hours, if you're at the North Pole your speed of rotation is quite slow at almost no speed at all, compared to the speed at the equator at about 1,038 miles per hour.
The lines of longitude that establish our time zones are so close at the North Pole, the Arctic region uses UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) when local time is necessary at the North Pole. The North Pole experiences six months of daylight and six months of darkness.

Robert Peary, his partner Matthew Henson, and four Inuit are generally credited with being the first to reach the North Pole on April 9, 1909 many suspect that they missed the pole by a few miles. In 1958, the United States nuclear submarine Nautilus was the first vessel to cross the North Pole. Other attempts to reach the North Pole have been quite interesting. Today, dozens of planes fly over the North Pole using great circle routes between continents.

Magnetic North Pole
Located North of Canada
Located hundred of miles south of the geographic North Pole lies the magnetic North Pole at approximately 82.7° North and 114.4° West (2005), northwest of Canada's Sverdrup Island. However, this location is not fixed and is moving continually, even on a daily basis.
The earth's magnetic pole is the focus of the planet's magnetic field and is the point that traditional magnetic compasses point toward. Compasses are also subject to magnetic declination which is a result of the earth's varied magnetic field. Each year, the magnetic North Pole and the magnetic field shift, requiring those using magnetic compasses for navigation to be keenly aware of the difference between magnetic north and true north. The magnetic pole was first determined in 1831, hundreds of miles from its present location.
The National Geomagnetic Program of Geological Survey of Canada monitors the movement of the north magnetic pole and most recently determined its precise location in a 2001 survey. They've determined that the pole is moving at approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) each year.
The north magnetic pole moves on a daily basis, too. Every day, there's an elliptical movement of the magnetic pole about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from its average center point.

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