What is the Magnetic North Pole?
The first question I know most of you will have is this – what is the Magnetic North Pole?
The Earth has a number of “North Pole’s” – the most common being True North (aka Geographic North), or put simply, as the Earth rotates around an axis, the point at the North and South where that axis would extend from the surface of the Earth. Think of a globe on a stand.
The Earth also has a Magnetic Field much like a bar magnet, which moves with time – when you’re looking at a compass the needle will point to the Magnetic North Pole, however this point is currently moving roughly North West by around 26 miles per year. There is a similar Magnetic South Pole in the Antarctic which also moves.
There is also a “North Geomagnetic Pole”, but I shan’t confuse you anymore than I have here – suffice to say if you’re interested, try Wikipedia!
The Magnetic North Pole was first established by the explorer James Clark Ross in 1831, who located it on the Boothia Peninsula, which is part of the Canadian mainland to the North West of Hudson Bay. At roughly 70° North, that was roughly the same distance South of Resolute Bay – our start point – as we have to head North for the 1996 position! Roald Amundsen subsequently found it in a different location in 1903, and subsequent research established it moving North West from Canada into the Arctic Sea.
In 1996 its position was established and surveyed using magnetometer and theodolite at 78°35.7′N 104°11.9′W. The Magnetic Poles are also referred to as the “Dip Poles”, since they are the point at which the needle of a compass – were it to move about freely – would point directly down at 90° to the Earth’s surface.
Since 1996 the position of the Magnetic North Pole has drifted somewhat further North West into the Arctic Sea and in time is expected to pass the Geographic North Pole and head down to Siberia.
The 1996 position however has become the “official” Magnetic North Pole, and since its official survey has become the source of many challenges and expeditions. The annual Polar Challenge and bi-annual Polar Race send teams of three to race the 360 nautical miles to the Magnetic North Pole from Resolute Bay, however while still a gruelling challenge, these include two resupplies en-route with support.
By contrast our Expedition is entirely self-supported from start to our pick-up at the finish, and we won’t be trying to beat anyone but ourselves!
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