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Facts About The South Pole For Kids

The South Pole is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole. Situated on the continent of Antarctica, it is the site of the United States Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which was established in 1956 and has been permanently staffed since that year.

  • The Geographic South Pole should not be confused with the South Magnetic Pole, which though geographically nearby, is defined based on the Earth’s magnetic field.
  • For most purposes, the Geographic South Pole is defined as the southern point of the two points where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects its surface (the other being the Geographic North Pole).
  • However, the Earth’s axis of rotation is actually subject to very small ‘wobbles’, so this definition is not adequate for very precise work; see Polar Motion for further information.
  • The geographic coordinates of the South Pole are usually given simply as 90°S, since its longitude is geometrically undefined and irrelevant.
  • For this reason, directions at the Pole are given relative to “grid north”, which points northwards along the prime meridian.
  • It sits atop a featureless, windswept, icy plateau at an altitude of 9,301 ft, about 800 mi from the nearest open sea at Bay of Whales.
  • The ice is estimated to be about 9,000 ft thick at the Pole, so the land surface under the icesheet is actually near sea level.
  • In 1820, several expeditions claimed to have been the first to have sighted Antarctica, with the very first being the Russian expedition led by Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev.
  • The first landing was probably just over a year later when American Captain John Davis, a sealer, set foot on the ice.
  • The first attempt to find a route from the Antarctic coastline to the South Pole was made by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott on the Discovery Expedition of 1901–04.
  • The US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was established by air over 1956–1957 for the International Geophysical Year and has been continuously staffed since then by research and support personnel.
  • Seven states maintain a territorial claim on eight territories in Antarctica.
  • In the summer (September–March), the sun is continuously above the horizon and appears to move in an anti-clockwise circle.
  • Temperatures at the South Pole are much lower than at the North Pole, primarily because the South Pole is located at altitude in the middle of a continental land mass, while the North Pole is at sea level in the middle of an ocean.
  • However, high winds can cause the blowing of snowfall, and the accumulation of snow amounts to about 7.9 in per year.
  • There is no a priori reason for placing the South Pole in any particular time zone, but as a matter of practical convenience the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station keeps New Zealand Time.
  • Due to its exceptionally harsh climate, there are no native resident plants or animals at the South Pole.