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Exploring the Poles

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Exploring the Poles The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth. The first humans to reach the Geographic South Pole were Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his party on December 14, 1911.

'Great God! This is an awful place.' English explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott had good reason to be unimpressed by the South Pole because when he arrived there on January 17, 1912 he found a Norwegian flag left on 14 December 1911 by Roald Amundsen, together with a note asking Scott to report Amundsen's triumph to the King of Norway.

Disappointment dogged every step of the return for Scott's party, a journey legendary for the selflessness of Captain Dates, whose frostbitten feet were hindering progress. Dates left the ten t during a blizzard with the words, '1 may be some time', knowing that he would not return. None of the party survived, but Scott found time to write their epitaph: 'Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions ... These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.'

The 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 800 miles (1,300 km) 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 is actually near sea level.

The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets the Earth's surface.

The conquest of the North Pole is more famous for the row over who got there first than for any bravery or courage. Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson claimed to have reached the pole with four Inuit guides on 6 April 1909, but on their return they found that Dr Frederick Cook was claiming to have reached the pole a year earlier. Cook's claim was discredited and the National Geographic Society (NGS) acclaimed Peary as the discoverer of the North Pole, but Henson, a black American, was ignored until a petition to the US president led to his official recognition on 6 April 1988 - ironically, the same year that an NGS-commissioned investigation concluded that Peary and Henson had, in fact, been up to 96km away from the pole.

In 1989 another NGS-sponsored investigation concluded that they had been only 8km away and had, after all, discovered the pole. However, this left a team led by Ralph Plaisted (USA) with a very strong claim to have been the first to reach the pole overland (in 1968), and Cook still has his supporters. With three claimants, the controversy continues - but the fact remains that the first humans to stand at the North Pole were probably the Inuit.

On August 2, 2007, a Russian expedition made the first ever manned descent to the ocean bottom at the North Pole, to a depth of 4.3 km, as part of a research programme in support of Russia's 2001 territorial claim to a large swathe of the Arctic Ocean. The sea depth at the North Pole has been measured at 4,261 metres (13,980 ft). The nearest land is usually said to be Kaffeklubben Island, off the northern coast of Greenland about 440 miles (c. 700 km) away, though some perhaps non-permanent gravel banks lie slightly further north.
Image Source : en.wikipedia.org

Tags: south pole, north pole, discovery, antarctica

Category: Education  - ( Education Archive)

Date Added: 27 February '08

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