Click the Media tab to see a short YouTube video of today's visit to the Ceremonial and Geographic South Poles!
I was at the Geographic South Pole today! It is a simple pole in the snow with an interesting symbolic top, but it is an AWESOME spot on the Earth.
Every year the Geographic South Pole is repositioned (the ice it sits on is drifting to the East a few feet every year) and a new marker is placed on the pole.
The first thing I did was walk all of the way around the Geographic South Pole because when I did that, I had just "walked around the world" going through all 24 time zones!
The Geographic South Pole is a one of the most interesting places on Earth, and a place where you can time travel...if you know what to do!
Then I did some time traveling! The Ceremonial Pole is lame but the Geographic Pole is AWESOME! The first thing I did was to walk around the Geographic South Pole, and by doing that I "walked around the world" and I walked through all 24 time zones! Then (this is the coolest part) I stepped from TODAY into YESTERDAY (that is where you are...just so you know). Then I stepped from yesterday BACK INTO TOMORROW! How mindbendingly cool is that?! Ok, I really just stepped a few feet to the west (my left) and then stepped a few feet back to the east (my right) over the 0˚/180˚/Prime Meridian/International Date line, but it isn't nearly as fun when I describe it like that! That may have been the coolest thing I have ever done!
The South Pole is an interesting and confusing place.
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is the southernmost residence on Earth with a population of approximately 150 people in the austral summer (now) and about 50 people in the winter.
The South Pole Station, built in 2008, is just feet from the Geographic South Pole.
The high elevation, dry climate, and clean air make the South Pole an ideal place for astrophysics, climatology, glaciology, seismology, geospace sciences and of course climatology and meterology (like the project I'm working on!). There is cutting edge science being done here. I’ve met some really interesting people!
This map shows some of the areas around the South Pole Station where some serious science is happening!
Every Direction is North!
The Station is located at 90 degrees south latitude and sits at an elevation of approximately 2,836 meters (9,306 feet), most of which is ice. When you stand at the exact 'Geographic South Pole' (or sometimes called the Terrestrial South Pole), every direction is north. Every direction is 'up' from the bottom of the Earth and therefore, north! To compensate for that, a Grid navigation system is used where a four quadrant grid is overlaid onto the map of Antarctica with the origin set directly on top of the Geographic South Pole. Using that system, we can go “Grid West” or “Grid East”. For locations in an easterly longitude (Eastern Hemisphere), "grid direction" equals true direction minus the longitude of the place you want to go. For locations in a westerly longitude (Western Hemisphere), "grid direction" equals true direction plus the longitude of the place you want to go.
When at the South Pole, every direction is north and that (and a few other magnetic issues) makes conventional navigation techniques nearly impossible. To compensate for those problems the "Grid System" is employed.
The Ceremonial South Pole is an area set aside for getting your picture taken at the South Pole Station! It is located about 100 yards from the Geographic South Pole, and is just a metallic sphere on a short bamboo pole, surrounded by the flags of the original Antarctic Treaty signatory states. Naturally, I got my picture taken there!
Over my shoulder is the Ceremonial South Pole, a great place to get your picture taken, but there is nothing special about the actual place. The really special place is the Geographic South Pole!