The world is full of strange and interesting things. From animal and insect species that we are just now discovering to the crazy geological formations that were created over centuries, Earth is full of fascinating wonders. The human race is exceptional, because we love to experience and explore such wonders to get a better grasp on how our own lives function. As a matter of fact, we can’t seem to get enough of this world that we live in. There seem to be endless interesting creatures, scientific discoveries, and places that still boggle our minds.
One of the most interesting places on Earth is the North Pole. It bewilders scientists, explorers, and researchers alike. Those who are simply interested in facts about the North Pole know that it is shrouded in mystery and even some controversy. The vast tundra of the North isn’t exactly what meets the eye. To call it a place is to do so for lack of a better term. It is a place in that it has a geographical location, and you can actually go there. However, there are some crazy facts about the North Pole that will definitely surprise you in no uncertain terms. Check out these 15 strange things you never knew about the North Pole.
15. It Isn’t A Continent
That’s right! This huge chunk of what looks to be land is actually just a giant slab of ice. Unlike its southern counterpart (the South Pole), there isn’t anywhere to plant a flag (even though Russia found a way, but we’ll get to that). This means that scientists can’t really just pitch a tent on the ice. Instead they use floating laboratories to help them examine and research the area. To navigate the iceberg infested waters, giant ships known as “icebreakers” are used. Because there is no land under the ice at the North Pole, there is something else you should know…
14. It Floats…It All Floats
Ice floats, and that means the North Pole is floating. Explorers and military have actually taken submarines under the North Pole, the first one being The Nautilus in 1958. This U.S. nuclear submarine traveled almost 1,000 miles from Alaska under the icecap, and reached a depth of nearly 500 feet. It again surfaced near Greenland. This floating mass changes in size with the seasons as well. Ultimately, this icecap is exactly what it sounds like: a cap of ice, floating listlessly on a giant ocean. Yet scientists are eager to explore it and learn about how long it has been floating there.
13. Where is the Russian Flag?
As promised, it’s time to talk about Russia’s flag, which is planted, get this, under the North Pole. According to nationalgeographic.org, “In 2007, a Russian research expedition using sophisticated submersibles became the first to descend to the actual seabed beneath the North Pole. The expedition, Arktika, planted a titanium Russian flag on the spot.” While we can all give curious looks as to why this was even necessary, I’m sure Russia has its reasons, you know, incase the Arctic Ocean dries up, or just incase we start creating underwater colonies.
12. There is No Time There
At the North Pole proper, or the terrestrial North Pole, there is no designated time zone. According to Nationalgeographic.org, at the North Pole, “Time is calculated using longitude. For instance, when the sun seems directly overhead, the local time is about noon. However, all lines of longitude meet at the poles, and the sun is only overhead twice a year (at the equinoxes.) For this reason, scientists and explorers at the poles record time-related data using whatever time zone they want.” When it comes to telling time, you can use any time zone you feel. However, chances are, if you’re there, you’re probably on vacation, so who really needs a watch?
11. Who Wants The North Pole?
Because it isn’t an actual continent, no one really owns the North Pole. However, several countries are actually interested in this giant slab of ice, and they are actually trying to stake claim to it. Why? Well, there is actually quite a large supply of untapped oil underneath it, so why wouldn’t these countries be interested in it? Not to mention, global warming is playing a huge role in receding sheets of ice, and easier, faster trade routes that can end up making an owning country or countries incredibly rich. Sure, let’s tax the heck out of the piece of land that isn’t even a piece of land.
10. Despite the Cold, It Has different Seasons
Alright… it’s cold at the North Pole, and to be fair, once temperatures reach a certain level of cold, nothing really matters. However, despite how cold it is there, there are still changes in weather that are considered seasons. In these seasons, the North Pole also experiences weeks of pure sunlight and weeks of darkness. In July, the North Pole’s warmest month, temperatures can skyrocket to a whopping 32 degrees. That’s a livable temperature, I guess. However, in February, which is the coldest month there, temps can dip below negative 31 degrees.
9. Penguin Free Zone
Because the North Pole isn’t a landmass, it is very difficult for wildlife to live there. Penguins are only found in the Southern Hemisphere (with the exception of those found in zoos), so you definitely won’t be seeing any at the North Pole. However, you can find some pretty amazing creatures at the alternative North Poles (the geomagnetic North Pole and the North Dip Pole). These include polar bears, arctic foxes, and reindeer (you know, Santa’s sled dogs, basically). So, despite the lack of penguins, there is still plenty of wildlife to save by saving those polar icecaps.
8. Annual Marathon for all interested
If you’re into a little adventure, or a lot of self-inflicted discomfort, the North Pole holds an annual marathon. It is located at the geographical North Pole, and is held every year. Known as “the world’s coolest marathon,” you can run in temperatures that average around -30 degrees celsius. Oh, and friendly reminder, you’re not actually running on land. You’re running on snow that is covering ice. How much is there to separate you from the Arctic Ocean? Well, only about six to twelve feet. That’s right, you’ll be running on an ice sheet as your only form of support. That’s not frightening at all.
7. Apparently The North Pole Is An Ideal Vacation Spot
Yep, you can actually vacation to the North Pole. You’ll have to stay on land, of course, so you’ll be looking more at staying in North Pole, Alaska or one of the North Poles that actually has land that they can build structural foundations on. However, if you feel like taking an arctic vacation, make sure to check out tours of the Arctic Ocean, which will only cost you about $25,000 per person. You can book an 11-day cruise which is only about $5,000 per person, and if you feel like a little relax time, check out the Chena Hot Springs which are located just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.
6. There Are 4 North Poles
No, they don’t reside on the four corners of the planet… mostly because the planet doesn’t have any corners. However, there are four different North Poles that people reference. The first is the “Terrestrial North Pole,” which is a fixed point that is directly opposite of the South Pole. The second is “The North Dip Pole,” and it is the place “where the geomagnetic field is perpendicular to the Earth’s surface,” according to Discoverymagazine.com. This causes a dip, which is why it’s called the North Dip Pole (clever, I know). The North Dip Pole is the place where your compass points toward when it is pointing North, and it isn’t stationary. Even though the North Dip Pole is geomagnetic, there is actually a third North Pole called the “geomagnetic North Pole.” According to discoverymagazine.com, this North Pole is “calculated using mathematical models based on an imaginary line running through the geomagnetic center of the Earth.” And finally, we have North Pole, Alaska. Which isn’t really a pole; it’s just a town that is pretty far away from the other North Poles.
5. It is constantly Changing in Size
Of course, because the North Pole is made of a giant slab of ice, its area changes with the seasons. In the winter, it’s about the size of the United States, giving scientists and explorers quite a bit to work with, though the weather conditions are pretty treacherous during the winter months.. However, in the summer, the North Pole shrinks down to about half that size. The warmer temperatures allow for more wildlife to show up, and more ships to pass, which is why it’s best to travel there in the summer months, especially if you’re interested in the cruises where you can see the sights.
4. Exploration Controversy
Frederick Albert Cook was the first person to reach the North Pole. This was in 1908. The biggest issue with this claim was the fact that Cook couldn’t actually provide evidence of this, because no one on his team (including himself) had experience with navigational records, and here’s the kicker, members of his team actually reported that they didn’t reach the pole itself. Whoops. In 1909, Robert Peary, with the support and funding of the National Geographic Society, claimed to have made it all the way to the North Pole. The National Geographic Society supported these claims. Both Peary’s and Cook’s claims of being the first explorer have been disputed over the years.
3. This is where Unicorns come from
Okay, there aren’t real unicorns at the North Pole, but the Arctic circle is home to a pretty exciting whale species known as the narwhal. The narwhal has a tusk that is usually between six and ten feet long. Sailors labeled them the “unicorns of the sea,” and their tusks became legend as they were thought to have magical healing abilities. It is even rumored that royalty like Queen Elizabeth I paid upwards of 10,000 pounds for one of these tusks. However, that’s just a rumor. I mean, when has an incredibly rich person ever made such an insane purchase?
2. Unbelievable Migration Patterns
The Arctic Tern is a small white and black bird that makes the longest migration of any animal on the planet. It starts its migration at the North Pole and ends in the South Pole and all the way back again every year. This bird does an amazing 12,000 miles each way, and can cover over 25,000 miles in a year. With a migration pattern like this, it makes you wonder if this thing ever even stops. The answer is yes, it stops in the north where it’s breeding grounds are, and it spends the winters in Antarctica.
1. Sometimes…It Changes Places With The South Pole
It’s not uncommon for the poles of the Earth to flip. Scientists believe that the last time the flip of the poles occurred was about 780,000 years ago. Now, we’re talking about the magnetic poles of the Earth, of course. Now, a lot of people might think that if this happens, the end of the world will occur. However, if the magnetic poles do shift, scientists say that it wouldn’t affect the population as much as you’d think. Perhaps compasses would become obsolete, but modern technology would be able to handle the situation with minimal changes to everyday life.
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