Fame always brings loneliness. Success is as ice cold and lonely as the North Pole.

VICKI BAUM (1888-1960)

The North Pole

Compass Useless Area

The Magnetic North Pole (best described as the place to which compasses point) was in Northern Canada until 2015, but is slowly moving towards Russia at around 35 miles per year and is currently in disputed waters. However it’s not easy to find if you are close-by. Compasses tend not to work very well when you get close to the poles.

On air navigators' charts, there are two areas known as the 'Compass Unreliable Area' and the 'Compass Useless Area', where the magnetic force on pulling the needle northwards is much weaker; this is because the magnetic lines are more vertical at this point, and the needle is lying horizontally. So much weaker are these forces, that the friction holding the needle in place can be stronger than the force moving it northwards. The 'Compass Unreliable Area' reaches south beyond the Arctic Circle.

In 2009, an Arctic team worked around the compass problem by attaching a pair of pants to a ski-pole. Using this, they could measure the small amount of wind that they knew from weather reports was coming from a certain direction. Thus the pants became a (wind) sock. 

Migrating Poles

The Geographic North Pole, which is the point about which the earth spins (imagine spinning the earth like a basketball - the geographic South Pole is where your finger would be), is also moving.

New measurements in 2016, found that it’s been moving towards the British Isles by 10 cm a year for the last two decades. This is due to displacement of water - there is more around Greenland due to the ice sheets melting, and less in Asia due to droughts. This change in weight moves the tilt of the spinning planet. 

Ownership of the Geographic North Pole is disputed between Russia, Denmark and Canada. In order to strengthen their claim, Russia used a submarine to plant an actual pole at what they considered to be the Geographical North Pole in 2007. It's on the seabed, and is a titanium rod holding a Russian flag; but of course it is now in the wrong place.


What lies North of the North Pole?


Now my eyes are turned from the South to the North, and I want to lead one more Expedition. This will be the last... to the North Pole.

Polar Exploration

Who was first to reach the North Pole is a bit of a controversy. Two American explorers claim to have got their first but both claims are disputed. Robert E. Peary said that he had reached the pole in April 1909 but a week before he announced his feat Dr. Frederick A. Cook, who had seemingly returned from the dead after more than a year in the Arctic, claimed to have reached the pole in April 1908 - a full year before Peary. Peary was widely believed to be the discoverer of the North Pole until 1988, when a re-examination of his records concluded that Peary's evidence never proved his claim and suggested that he knew he might have fallen short. Cook's claim, meanwhile, has come to rest in a sort of polar twilight, neither proved nor disproved because he was unable to provide any navigational records, although his descriptions of the Arctic region, made public before Peary's, were verified by later explorers.
The first verified expedition to the North Pole was conducted by Norwegian explorer, Roald Amudson in 1926, who flew over it in an airship. The first people verified to ave stood there were a group of Russian scientists who were flown in in 1948. 

A Rare Feat

Only 47 people have walked to the North Pole in the purest sense – that is, completely human powered, with no air-dropped supplies, dogs, kites, or motorized vehicles.

It could be that this has happened for the last time, as the ice is now so thin that it is virtually impossible. Worse still, thin ice is blown south by the wind, so you can walk Northwards along an ice pack for hours and still be in the same place. 

The most spectacular views of the Northern Lights occur in an oval ring centered over the magnetic North Pole.

According to a 2008 study by the U.S. Geologic Survey, the Arctic has 20% of the planet’s undiscovered, recoverable oil and natural gas deposits.

The magnetic North and South Poles aren’t diametrically opposed, they’re off by more than 20 degrees latitude at the moment.

Polaris, the North Star will always appear in the north, unless you're at the North Pole, where it appears directly overhead.

The North Pole experiences only one sunrise, at the March equinox and one sunset, at the September equinox each year.

An annual marathon takes place on the arctic ice shelf.