The Other South Poles

In addition to the geographical South Pole, with its actual south pole, Antarctica has three other salient southerly “poles.”

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t understand enough about science to really understand either the magnetic south pole or the geomagnetic south pole, but suffice to say that the former is the spot where the lines of the earth’s magnetic field point straight up from the surface of the earth, and the latter is… a theoretical spot where a theoretically regular magnetic field would emerge? Sort of? Maybe someone on my trip can explain it! Wikipedia says this, unhelpfully:

The south magnetic pole is the point on Earth‘s Southern Hemisphere where the geomagnetic field lines are directed vertically upwards. The Geomagnetic South Pole, a related point, is the south pole of an ideal dipole model of the Earth’s magnetic field that most closely fits the Earth’s actual magnetic field.

Anyhow, neither one is anywhere near the South Pole. The magnetic South Pole moves about three miles a year. It’s now located in the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean off the north (ha!) coast of Antarctica, just outside the Antarctic Circle and on its way to New Zealand.

The Magnetic South Pole,” Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

And but so, the other other south pole is quite a bit easier to explain, and both quite a bit cooler and colder: the Pole of Inaccessibility! Quite straightforwardedly, this is the spot on the Antarctica continent that’s furthest from the Southern Ocean in each direction (that is, north, north, north, and south).

Loneliest place on Earth,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation

It’s about 500 miles from the South Pole, about 12,000 feet high (just a shade under the altitude of the highest spot in the contiguous U.S.), and pretty much impossible to reach except by air or unless you were the Soviets in 1958, who established a base there during the International Geophysical Year. Those crazy commies abandoned it a few years later. All that’s there now is a weather station (the forecast is always for cold and wind) and apparently a bust of Lenin.

Yeah, I’d visit.

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