The Pole(s)

My sister Anna’s husband Shawn asked me how close the station is to the real, geographic South Pole. Well, here’s a picture of me at the Pole marker… with the blue station building in the background to the left. Very close!

The galley windows look right out over the Pole marker, so the Pole is in view at every meal. :)

Interestingly, the Pole marker is re-surveyed (using GPS satellites these days) every year; the 2-mile thick ice sheet that our station rests on is slowly flowing toward the ocean, which means that the station moves with respect to the rotation axis of the earth, the Pole. That movement is about 30 feet/year, so every year when the pole marker is re-surveyed it is moved about 30 feet… to the left in the photo above. I first came here in 1988, 23 years ago, so the Pole marker has been moved about 700 feet in that time!

I’m not sure why, but the NSF also sets up a “ceremonial pole” surrounded by the flags of all the treaty nations. It’s marked by a shiny ball on a barber pole. Here’s a closeup of the ball, with yours truly in reflection.

Many years ago the ceremonial pole was much closer to the station than the actual geographic pole… so it was easier for visitors to get there and get nice pictures… but now the geographic pole is actually closer… 30 years from now the geographic pole will again be further away, unless they move the station!

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