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Moo the Magic Cow
12-27-2002, 11:14 PM
I was reading the Santa Claus response on the main page and it got me thinking. Is the North Pole considered a continent? If so, is that the right name of the landmass?

Jinx
12-27-2002, 11:18 PM
As I understand it, the North Pole is not a landmass and thus it is NOT considered as a continent. In contrast, Antarctica has a landmass beneath all the snow and ice. - Jinx

tomndebb
12-27-2002, 11:18 PM
The North Pole is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The only thing there is a vast ice floe. (That is why the first ship to sail to the North Pole was the USS Nautilus--the first nuclear submarine, so the first that did not have to surface, periodically, to recharge its batteries.)

Ice Wolf
12-27-2002, 11:26 PM
This page on the North Magnetic Pole (http://geolab.nrcan.gc.ca/geomag/northpole_e.shtml) shows that the North Pole is actually just a point on the surface of the Earth, and is moving, just as the South Pole does, with the flow of the plahnet's magnetic field.

Whereas Antarctica is the nearest continent to the South Pole, this does not mean that the South Pole itself is a continent. In the history of Earth, the position has been different, with the North Pole on land, and the South Pole in open water (although the site linked to says the South Pole is just off the Anatarctic coast, at this time).

Kamandi
12-27-2002, 11:33 PM
Just to be sickeningly nitpicky, it's the magnetic poles that drift over time. The geographic poles are the spots on the Earth's surface through which its rotational axis project, and are fixed. Santa's house is at the north geographic pole.

Geobabe
12-27-2002, 11:33 PM
The North Pole referred to here I believe is the geographic rather than magnetic pole. Santa doesn't live at the magnetic pole; it'd be damned inconvenient having to pack up house and move all the time.

raygirvan
12-27-2002, 11:52 PM
Geobabe and Kamandi are right. "The North Pole" generally refers to the north geographic pole (the axis of rotation of the Earth) and not the magnetic pole. It's a point - 90 degrees north on a map - which happens to be in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The South Pole is likewise a point - 90 degrees south - that's in the middle of the continent of Antarctica.

Polycarp
12-27-2002, 11:59 PM
The South Geographic Pole is well in the middle of Antarctica; it's the South Magnetic Pole that is a bit off the coast (the North Magnetic Pole is somewhere in the vicinity of what may or may not still be called the Boothia Peninsula, in Nunavut, Canada.

And, while the geographic poles are indeed fixed, the continents move over geologic time spans. The South Pole was once in southern Africa, during the Permian (hence the massive glaciation of Gondwanaland at that time).

To completely confuse the issue, there are also the geomagnetic poles, completely different from the other two. I'll leave somebody with more knowledge of physical geography to explain what the heck they are! :)

The North Pole referred to here I believe is the geographic rather than magnetic pole. Santa doesn't live at the magnetic pole; it'd be damned inconvenient having to pack up house and move all the time.

Hmmm. The Straight Dope on the Santa question is, of course, that polar explorers have never encountered his base of operations, which must be fairly extensive, what with his house, workshop, reindeer area (and reindeer of course need an area to graze, not ice floes), some residential facilities for the elves, etc. Perhaps Santa does live at the North Magnetic Pole, not the geographic one. This would put him on land in northern Canada, where reindeer are known to live, and one can easily believe that those sneaky Inuit are concealing his operations for their own purposes! :)

UncleBill
12-28-2002, 12:06 AM
Polar Explorers are either military or influenced/funded by the military, and I'm sure their reports are "scrubbed" by intelligence units to ensure nothing gets out. The stars in DC want to have Santa's secret of navigation and pinpoint accuracy as well as the speed he must maintain to make that mission every year. GPS? Pshaw! Kid's stuff!

Follow the money.

Arnold Winkelried
12-28-2002, 12:50 AM
Some related articles from this site.
Straight Dope column:

Why do Europe and Asia count as two continents? (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a1_166a.html)

Staff Reports:

Why is Greenland considered an island but not Eurasia? (https://academicpursuits.us/mailbag/misland.html)

Why are Europe and Asia considered separate continents? What's a continent, anyway? (https://academicpursuits.us/mailbag/meurasia.html)

Ice Wolf
12-28-2002, 12:52 AM
I just say "Gah! Yes, I knew the magnetic poles and geographic poles are different -- but I still had a brain fart!"

And go :smack:

Wikkit
12-28-2002, 01:03 AM
Originally posted by Kamandi
Just to be sickeningly nitpicky, it's the magnetic poles that drift over time. The geographic poles are the spots on the Earth's surface through which its rotational axis project, and are fixed. Santa's house is at the north geographic pole. The geographic poles aren't fixed either. They move slightly due to various wobbles in the rotation of the earth.

Enola Straight
12-28-2002, 02:42 AM
The North Pole is 90 degrees due north.

Santa lives at 91 degrees north.

Richard Pearse
12-28-2002, 03:18 AM
You walk South for 1 Mile, West for 1 Mile, and then North for 1 mile. You finish at your starting point and are then promptly eaten by a bear (who was hiding out, waiting for you).

What colour was the bear?

xash
12-28-2002, 07:02 AM
Brown. I carried my grizzly with me. And left him at the North Pole. And forgot to train him not to eat me.

Or white.

RM Mentock
12-28-2002, 07:44 AM
Originally posted by Polycarp
To completely confuse the issue, there are also the geomagnetic poles, completely different from the other two. I'll leave somebody with more knowledge of physical geography to explain what the heck they are!
No, the geomagnetic poles are the same as the magnetic poles. Do you have a reference that says otherwise? I'd like to see it.

trader_of_shots
12-28-2002, 07:47 AM
Given that the only Bear at the north pole are Polar bears ... i'd say .... ask me another question i might know

AWB
12-28-2002, 07:51 AM
The geographic North and South poles actually vary, due to a slight wobble in the Earth's rotation.

There's a National Geographic picture of the exact North Pole with several scientists measuring the exact rotational axis. Over the course of their studies, the NP moved about quite a bit in a 50' circular area.

zigaretten
12-28-2002, 08:18 AM
Originally posted by RM Mentock
No, the geomagnetic poles are the same as the magnetic poles. Do you have a reference that says otherwise? I'd like to see it.

The Earths magnetic field is not perfectly symmetric. That is to say that it doesn't have the sort of perfect shape that one would expect from a textbook illustration of the field of a bar magnet. The magnetic poles are measured positions.

The geomagnetic poles are the theoretical poles which result from calculating the "best fit" for a bar magnet which would generate the overall magnetic field. This site (http://sfu.ca/earth-sciences/courses/317Spring02/3-Past_Plate_Motions.htm) explains it better than I ever could.

RM Mentock
12-28-2002, 01:52 PM
My mistake. I'd even read this page (http://earth.agu.org/sci_soc/campbell.html) before. There is a distinction in the terminology.

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