Have you ever found yourself wondering what is located at the top or the bottom of the earth? Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you could just escape from all society and be by yourself for a while? Or have you ever wondered what complete isolation would feel like?
Well, there are only two places on this earth that I can think of that would answer all of those questions: the South Pole and the North Pole. These two global anomalies are the most southern part of the world and the most northern part of the world. Both the North Pole and the South Pole are found exactly opposite of each other on the globe. Incredibly, the South and North Pole are where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects its surface. There are so many unexpected affects and phenomenons that happen in these locations that would literally “blow you away”. On top of that, these two locations are so isolated that it would take a special person to even travel there to experience them or to vacation there. Below you will find 10 reasons not to travel to the South Pole and 10 reasons why the North Pole is more ideal.
20 South Pole: The Coldest Place On Earth
The South Pole is the coldest place on the globe. Yep, you read that right! The coldest place on earth! The warmest temperature ever recorded in the South Pole was a freezing -12.3 degrees Celsius. Now that is cold! The South Pole is located on Antarctica, which is one of the Earth’s seven continents. According to the National Geographic, even though land at the South Pole is only about a hundred meters above sea level, the ice sheet above it is only 9,000 feet thick. This makes the South Pole more elevated than the North Pole which makes it even colder. Can you imagine being that cold 24/7?
19 South Pole: World's Largest Desert
The word desert probably brings to mind images of cactuses, tons of sand, huge camels, and zero water. However, according to Planet Earth, a desert is defined as having lower than 25 centimeters of precipitation either through rainfall, snow, or ice. That being said, the South Pole is the biggest desert in the world. On average, the South Pole receives 50 mm of precipitation per year, mainly in the form of snow. It’s span is as large as the United States at 14,000,000 kilometers on the continent. The South Pole even beats the Sahara Desert, which is more commonly known as the second largest desert, with little precipitation. So even though the South Pole is miles and miles of nothing but snow and ice it is still considered the largest desert on the globe. Would you strand yourself in the world’s largest desert?
18 North Pole: It Is Quite A Bit Warmer
Temperatures in the North Pole are freezing. During the warmest month, July, the temperature is usually around 32 degrees. During the coldest month, February, the temperatures drop to a chilling -31 degrees below zero. Shockingly, the North Pole is not the coldest place on the globe even though the temperatures reach a high of 32 degrees. The South Pole is the coldest place on the globe which means that the North Pole is quite a bit warmer. Unlike the South Pole, the North Pole is made up of a thin Arctic ice sheet that sits barely a foot above sea level. Since the North Pole sits a foot above sea level, this allows the landscape to absorb heat from the surrounding Arctic Ocean making it warmer than the South Pole.
17 North Pole: Humans Live There Year Round
Unlike the isolation of the South Pole, there are native humans that have lived in the North Pole for ages. The Native Inuit tribes have found ways to survive the harshest environmental conditions. Due to the lack of plant life in the North Pole, the Inuit tribes have had to learn to survive off of the animals that were around. The Inuit tribes would hunt for seal, walrus, polar bear, caribou, and many other animals. It was the only way they could survive. Incredibly, the Inuit people would create Igloos as a house. These Igloos were made from snow blocked together piled in a spiral shape. The sleeping platforms were made from ice blocks covered with fur. Can you imagine sleeping on an ice bed?
16 South Pole: Most Isolated Place On Earth
You can visit the South Pole from a few varying locations, but you will always land on Amundsen-Scott base where you will be welcomed and sent on your tour. You only visit and tour the South Pole during the summer due to the severity of the winters. Only a handful of people can live there during the winter. These people are scientists that have chosen stay at the research facility in the South Pole. Once the last aircraft leaves in mid-February, there won’t be another aircraft until late October until early November. So these scientists are literally stranded in the coldest most isolated place on the whole globe. Not to mention no one but scientists have ever lived there for extended periods of time.
15 South Pole: One Sun Sighting Per Year
Due to the unique location of the South Pole, being at the bottom of the globe, the sun is not seen like any other location. It will remain day light for days on end or it will be dark days on end, depending on the season. Also, due to the tilt of earth’s axis, the South Pole only experiences one sunset and one sunrise per year. You won’t miss this sunset or sunrise. It lasts for days! This means you can soak up every second of the most beautiful sunset or sunrise. It only happens twice a year, once for sunset and once for sunrise. The long days of sunlight or the long days of darkness is enough to drive anyone mad, especially if your body is used to have a full day of sunlight then fades into darkness.
14 North Pole: Two Legendary Characters
The North Pole is very well known for its legendary characters: Santa Claus and the ‘Unicorns of the Seas’. As December rolls around, Santa Claus is busy wrapping gifts and deciding if your child will make it on the naughty or nice list. Even though Santa Claus is known for living in the North Pole, his workshop is actually in Finnish, Lapland. However, reindeer actually live in the North Pole. That means that Donner and Blitzen are there too! Santa Claus is not the only character that came from the North Pole. Shockingly, unicorns were created from there too. There is a whale known as the Narwhal that has a 6-10 foot long tusk protruding from its canine tooth. It received the nickname ‘unicorns of the seas’. Back in the 16thcentury, they were often believed to have possessed magical powers that could be used to cure diseases thus the unicorn was born.
13 North Pole: Beautiful Hot Springs
The North Pole is one of the coldest places to live in, but there are warm benefits to visiting. There are hot springs in the North Pole. Hot Springs are a geothermally heated groundwater that rises from the Earth’s crust. The most popular hot springs is the Chena Hot Springs. It is located about an hour from Fairbanks, Alaska. The Chena Hot Springs stay around 67 degrees Celsius. Now that is warm compared to the freezing temperatures in the North Pole. If you enjoy hot tubs you will fully enjoy a warm dip into a hot spring in the North Pole. It will be so relaxing.
12 South Pole: High Altitudes
The South Pole sits at 9,301 feet with the average elevation at 7,546 feet. This makes the South Pole the highest continent in the world even though it is at the bottom of the world. Such irony! However, this altitude means that there is much less effectively available oxygen to breath in than any other continent. You have to be careful when visiting the South Pole because you will find yourself feeling dizzy, slightly short of breath, or having severe headaches from the lack of oxygen. A person will carry 97-98% oxygen at sea level, but when you drop that person in the South Pole the person will carry about 87-89% oxygen or less. This causes altitude sickness that could be sever, fluid in lungs or brain, or less severe, dizziness or headache.
11 South Pole: Lack Of Sleep
If high altitudes were not enough to explain why you should not visit the South Pole, there will be many sleepless nights in the South Pole. It is hard enough to sleep when you are used to sleeping in the dark after the sun sets, but it is also hard to try to sleep when it is hard to catch your breath. The elevation of the South Pole can change due to the barometric pressures dropping which causes the air to become thicker. The barometric pressures drop from the Earth spinning on it’s axis pulling the atmosphere towards the Equator. Essentially, the centrifugal force pulls the sky downward in the polar regions causing the air to become thinner. All of this causes an extra 2,000 feet are added to the 10,000 feet above sea level inducing the same sleeplessness that mountaineers experience when climbing at high altitudes.
10 North Pole: The Yearly Marathon
Every year there is a North Pole Marathon that takes place. It has been deemed the ‘world’s coolest marathon’. The marathon takes place when the temperatures drop to a chilling 22 degrees below zero. It has happened since 2002, and over 255 people come from 38 nations around the world to brave the harsh conditions. The runners will compete in the 26.2-mile marathon race on top of a floating Arctic ice shelf. The competitors are transported to an international North Pole camp to start the race. The competitors must brave harsh and freezing conditions, but the bragging rights are priceless!
9 North Pole: At The Top Of The Earth
How cool would it be for you to tell all of your friends that you got to visit the very top of the Earth? There is no other place further North than the North Pole. The nearest land is 700 miles away. In fact, when you are standing on the North Pole, any direction you point to is South because there is not any other direction to go. It’s like the phrase “what goes up must come down”. It is as far North as you can go without going into space. Visiting this location will make you feel incredible even though its temperatures are quite chilling.
8 South Pole: Everything Is Always Moving
Imagine trying to grip an ice cube in your hand. It seems nearly impossible because it keeps slipping and moving a lot right? Amazingly, the South Pole sits on a 1.9 mile slab of ice. This is like the Earth trying to grip a hold of the ice that the South Pole sits on. This means that the South Pole slips a lot! The South Pole moves about 1 inch per day. While the actual geographic South Pole doesn’t move, the buildings and the markers on it do. This means that everything at the South Pole moves around 30 feet per year. Surveyors will pinpoint the exact location of the South Pole every year and place a marker there so that you can watch the movement. It's quite scary to think about.
7 South Pole: Winds Reach Hurricane Speeds
Have you ever experienced a hurricane? What about feeling the gushing strong force of a hurricane’s mighty winds? Well, you can experience hurricane winds in the South Pole. The winds in the South Pole are called Katabatic winds. Katabatic comes from the Greek word Katabasis meaning ‘going down’. These winds are due to dense, cold air lying less than a few hundred meters off of the surface at the highest levels of the Antarctic ice sheets that flows down towards the coast under gravity. In fact, the strongest wind recorded was 199 miles per hour at Dumont d’Urville station back in 1972. The average winds range around 62 miles per hour, but can reach 100mph or more.
6 North Pole: No Land In Sight
Have you ever heard of standing on solid ice, but never seeing land? The North Pole is one large solid sheet of ice. While the South Pole lies on a continental landmass, the North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean amid waters that are permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice. This means that the North Pole has no land underneath it. As stated earlier, the closest land is a mere 700 miles away. You basically are floating on ice even though it feels like solid land. For some that may be intimidating, but for others this could be an adventure of a lifetime.
5 North Pole: Incredible Wildlife
There is incredible wildlife that you can only see in the North Pole. You can find the polar bear, reindeer, caribous, arctic fox, ringed seal, black-legged kittiwake, northern fulmar, snow bunting, shrimp and amphipods, and the North Pole sea anemone. These animals are able to survive any harsh environment, and these animals thrive on ice when there is no land to be seen for hundreds of miles and a lack of food. After all, the North Pole is so chilly that it cannot host plants and other forms of foods. These animals are able to survive by eating other animals or by eating fish out of the ocean.
4 South Pole: There Are No Time Zones
Most anywhere in the world has a time zone for you to be able to tell what time of day it is. However, the South Pole does not have any specified time zone. There are a few research stations that have observed their own local time, but the South Pole is not officially divided up into time zones. You won’t even need a watch. After the Sun finally rises, it circles the sky and gradually rises until mid-summer, in which it will slowly descend back toward the horizon. I’m sure you are wondering how you could tell time? It’s easy! The sun will be in the exact same location every day at the exact same time. This means that you can base the time off of which building it is peering over. So no worries, there still is time just in different forms than what you might be used to.
3 South Pole: No WildLife Except For These Two
The South Pole is so cold and barren that plant life isn’t able to grow there. The only two animals that live there and thrive are penguins and seals. There is no indigenous wildlife here. There couldn’t be any plant or wildlife that could survive because the South Pole is covered in an ice sheet that covers 98% of it. The remaining 2% is barren rock. The penguins survive off of the fish below the ocean and the seals survive off of different fish and off of the penguins. It is a very cold and lifeless place to visit.
2 North Pole: No Time
Due to the fact that the longitude line meets up in the North Pole, it is impossible to determine which time zone you are in based on the longitude. Therefore, the North Pole uses the time zones that the research stations have chosen. Some people use the sun’s position during the day to determine the time. For example, if the sun peers over the research station at lunch time then you will head to the cafeteria because the sun will be in that same position at lunch time every single day. The darkest time of the year in the North Pole is the Winter Solstice, which occurs in December. However, during the summer, the North Pole has a Summer Solstice, which means that the shadows are short because the sun is higher in the sky. The sun will circle the North Pole once every single day during the summer, and it is always located right above the horizon.
1 North Pole: Aurora Borealis
One of the most beautiful things to experience in the North Pole is the Aurora Borealis. This experience is a once in a lifetime even though you can see these lights anywhere from 6pm-6am during late September to early April. These lights happen when particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere and collide violently with the gas atoms, but there are nothing violent about viewing these lights. The Aurora Borealis is spectacular. These spectacular lights will dance over your head beaming colors of green, yellow, white, gray, or many other colors. These amazing lights are well worth the trip to the North Pole, but be sure to pack thick coats as it is always freezing or below freezing there.