Outdoor Life

What is at the North Pole

By George Garza
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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The North Pole
Despite how barren it appears, life can and does exist at the top of the Earth
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The North Pole is not the barren place you may think it is.

The North Pole is an enigma wrapped around a puzzle. There are two North Poles. The north terrestrial pole is the fixed geographic point that forms the axis on which the Earth spins. The imaginary lines called meridians, which stretch from the North Pole to the South Pole, begin here.

Then there is the north magnetic pole. Compass needles point to the magnetic North Pole from all over the Earth. But it moves day by day. It shifts between six to 25 miles each year because the magnetic field is affected by underground molten metal and charged particles from the sun. Right now the two poles are about 600 miles from each other.

Depending on the tilt towards the sun, the North Pole spends half the year in darkness and half in light. The axis stays constant as the Earth orbits the sun. That means for half the orbit the Earth's axis is tilted toward the sun and for the other half the axis is tilted away from the sun.

March 21

Mark that date! That is when sunrise at the North Pole occurs on the spring equinox. The sun then climbs to the high noon point in the sky, which is the summer solstice around June 21. It slowly sets on the horizon until it drops below on the autumn equinox, September 21.

The aurora borealis or northern lights occur in an oval around the north magnetic pole. They appear as bands, clouds and rays of red, green, and blue lights in the night sky.

Letters to Santa

Yes you can send letters to Santa at the North Pole. The North Pole zip code is 99705. The letters reach North Pole, Alaska. But Canadian children can send letters to Santa to the North Pole postal code H0H 0H0. Really!

Climate and animals

What is the warmest month? July is. The mean temperature rises to a freezing 32-degrees Fahrenheit. In February the average drops to -31-degrees Fahrenheit. If you add the wind chill factor, these temperatures are even worse and create one of the planet's harshests environments.

Polar bears cannot eat penguins because penguins are found at the South Pole in Antarctica, and Polar Bears are found at the North Pole. There is no land beneath the ice of the North Pole. The Arctic ice cap is a shifting pack of sea ice some 6.5- to 10-feet thick—floating above the 13,000-foot-deep Arctic Ocean. In fact the U.S. atomic submarine Nautilus became the first vessel to cruise under the North Pole in 1958. During the winter the Arctic ice pack grows to the size of the United States. In the summer half of the ice disappears.

But we might finally get the Northwest Passage, an Arctic shipping shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, could be ice free and open for summer travel sometime this century. The route passes below Iceland and Greenland, through Arctic Canada and along Alaska's north coast.

Oil reserves

Political intrigue, like we didn't have enough. But because of the oil reserves under the Arctic, there have been claims by Russia that the North Pole belongs to them. Canada is disputing that, and the issue is still unresolved politically.

So what's at the North Pole? Lot's of ice, very cold weather but one of the most challenging and diverse area's on earth.

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