North Pole might be free of ice
Scientists have warned that the North Pole might be free of ice
soon, turning into a vast expanse of water. According to a report in New Scientist , Arctic scientists are
preparing for this grim possibility after seeing a number of factors that have this year led to most of the Arctic ice
being thin and vulnerable as it enters its summer melting season.
The North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, amidst waters that are almost permanently
covered with constantly shifting sea ice.
A polar bear roams on the remote Svalbard archipelago between Norway's northern tip and the North Pole.
In September 2007, Arctic sea ice reached a record low, opening up the fabled North-West passage that runs from Greenland to
Alaska. The ice expanded again over the winter and in March 2008 covered a greater area than it had in March 2007. Although
this was billed as good news in many media sources, the trend since 1978 is on the decline.
In September 2007, Arctic sea ice reached a record low, opening up the fabled North-West passage that runs from Greenland to Alaska.
Although Arctic ice is at its maximum in March, that maximum is declining by 44,000 km square per year on
average. The extent of the ice is only half the picture, with satellite images showing that most of the Arctic ice at the moment is
thin, young ice that has only been around since last autumn.
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or
Terrestrial North Pole, is, the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets
the Earth's surface. The North Pole is the northernmost point on Earth, lying diametrically opposite
the South Pole. It defines latitude 90° North, as well as the direction of True North.
While the South Pole lies on a continental land mass, the North Pole is located
in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, amidst waters that are almost permanently
covered with constantly shifting sea ice. This makes it impossible to construct
a permanent station at the North Pole (unlike the South Pole). However, the
Soviet Union have constructed a number of manned drifting stations, some of which have passed over or very close to the Pole. Recently,
scientists have predicted that the North Pole may become seasonally ice-free,
perhaps as early as summer 2008 due to Arctic shrinkage.
The sea depth at the North Pole has been measured at 4,261 metres (13,980
ft).The nearest land is usually said to be Kaffeklubben Island, off the northern coast of Greenland about 440 miles (c. 700 km) away, though some
perhaps non-permanent gravel banks lie slightly further north.
At the North Pole, the Sun is permanently above the horizon during the summer
months and permanently below the horizon during the winter months. Sunrise is just before the vernal equinox (around March 19); the Sun then takes three
months to reach its highest point of about 23½° elevation at the summer solstice
(around June 21), after which time it begins to sink, reaching sunset just after
the autumnal equinox (around September 24). A civil twilight period of about two weeks occurs before sunrise and after
sunset, and an astronomical twilight period of about seven weeks occurs before
sunrise and after sunset. Thus at the North Pole the sun is continuously in the sky for six months.
There is no permanent human presence at the North Pole, and no particular time zone has been assigned.