Jim McNeil, the winner of our Spirit of Adventure Award for 2003, has set himself a daunting task. Over a period of 5 years he is leading an expedition on a trip to the locations of the four North Poles. Yes, four :-
- There’s the North Pole ‘proper’, which is on the axis about which the Earth rotates. That’s 90° North.
- Then there’s the Magnetic North Pole, created by the molten iron core of the Earth. It’s the point on the Earth’s surface where the N-pole of an Inclinometer needle points vertically downwards. The Magnetic NP is always on the move. Currently, it’s careering daily around an oval track of approximately 85 km whilst drifting progressively north east across the Canadian Arctic at 40 km per year. It’s currently roughly 82°N by 113°W. Check it out on the ‘Net’ <www.geolab.nrcan.gc.ca/geomag/daily_mvt_nmp_e.shtml>.
- The Geomagnetic North Pole identifies the axis of a theoretical bar magnet representing the earth’s magnetic field. It is the magnetic pole ‘seen’ by satellites. It is approximately 78°30' N, 69° W.
- The Northern Pole of Inaccessibility (‘The Arctic Pole’ -Jim McNeil) is the furthest point from land, arguably the most inaccessible place on Earth. It is stationary at 84°03' N, 174°51' W. All the Poles are in the Arctic and probably all look pretty much the same.
As a matter of fact, both the Magnetic and Geomagnetic North Poles are actually South Poles or they would not attract the North Pole of a freely suspended magnet.
If he’s back from phase 1 of his sequential arctic odyssey - a team trek to the Geomagnetic Pole this March/April - he’ll be with us for the the AGM. He is very optimistic that, barring the unforeseen, he will be able to attend to present an account of the adventure to our meeting. Phase 2 involves a one-man trek to the Geographical North Pole, taking a prototype survival and support sled which is being developed to enhance the safety of Polar explorers.
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