Incredible "South Pole" Gobbledygook

Can We Count On Any News Reports About "The South Pole"?

Wikipedia, apparently in all seriousness, tells us the following, please read this carefully, noting the utter absurdity of it:

"The South Pole: Situated on the continent of Antarctica, it is the site of the United States Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, which was established in 1956 and has been permanently staffed since that year. The Geographic South Pole should not be confused with the South Magnetic Pole, which is defined based on the Earth's magnetic field. The South Pole is at the center of the Southern Hemisphere.....For most purposes, the Geographic South Pole is defined as the southern point of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface (the other being the Geographic North Pole). However, the Earth's axis of rotation is actually subject to very small "wobbles" (polar motion), so this definition is not adequate for very precise work.

The geographic coordinates of the South Pole are usually given simply as 90°S, since its longitude is geometrically undefined and irrelevant. When a longitude is desired, it may be given as 0°. At the South Pole, all directions face north. For this reason, directions at the Pole are given relative to "grid north", which points northwards along the prime meridian. Along tight latitude circles, clockwise is east, and counterclockwise is west, opposite to the North Pole.

The Geographic South Pole is located on the continent of Antarctica (although this has not been the case for all of Earth's history because of continental drift). It sits atop a featureless, barren, windswept and icy plateau at an altitude of 2,835 metres (9,301 ft) above sea level, and is located about 1,300 km (800 mi) from the nearest open sea at Bay of Whales. The ice is estimated to be about 2,700 metres (9,000 ft) thick at the Pole, so the land surface under the ice sheet is actually near sea level.

The polar ice sheet is moving at a rate of roughly 10 metres per year in a direction between 37° and 40° west of grid north, down towards the Weddell Sea. Therefore, the position of the station and other artificial features relative to the geographic pole gradually shift over time."

All of the above truly seems to amount to the most amazing gobbledygook, just seemingly calculated to cause confusion! I much prefer what we always used to be told by our school science teachers back in the 1950s. Am I being naive? I don't thnk so. What our teachers used to tell us went something like this:

The south pole does not actually exist and you will never be able to find it, but since we use a globe earth model one has to place it somewhere. There is only a true north pole which one may travel to.

I even remember an old Blue Peter TV programme here in the UK telling youngsters that there was no actual South Pole, only a North Pole, this would have been somewhere around the 1960's; also, could an area of rock solid ice really be moving "10 metres per year"? That is an incredible movement! And could it be moving "down towards the Weddell Sea"? Shouldn't that be up towards the Weddell Sea?

But, one might ask, did not Roald Amundsen reach the "South Pole" about 105 years ago with Captain Scott failing in the valiant attempt? Both men and their parties certainly did reach some fearfully cold and desolate location which was as far as one could humanly go and the attempts were claimed as a "South Pole discovery," but were they really? While nobody doubts the fortitude and bravery of such men, not all geographers are now convinced that any of these people ever really did reach the "South Pole."

In 2012, even Prince Harry is said to have travelled to the "South Pole" with a group of servicemen and women from around the world, the group is said to have undertaken "the three-week trek" to help raise money and awareness for the U.K.-based Walking With the Wounded charity, which helps wounded armed forces members. Even National Geographic magazine carried a somewhat sarcastic article about this trek, asking which "South Pole" the Prince travelled to? Apparently three separate ones have been claimed. (source:

Antarctica Holidays?

Yes, I know that there are now even various holiday tours which claim to take you to Antarctica and the "South Pole" in order to see the Penguins, but I am pretty much convinced that they take you to no such place; they take you to the most friendly part of Antarctica - meteorology-wise - which is the South Shetland Isles and that bit of Antarctica which juts up towards South America, called Graham Land, near the Weddell Sea; we are told that the cold is less intense in those areas. Meanwhile, the Ceremonial South Pole (a little further away) is an area set aside for photo opportunities but it is not the true South Pole. On the one hand we are told that the Unites States has a long established weather station at the "true South Pole," whilst others claim that this is not the true South Pole at all since it "keeps moving." Apparently air flights across the true South Pole are also banned (they are not banned across the far more dangerous Himalayas). I call all of this the most staggering 'gobbledygook' coming from a willingness to engage in double-talk. No such prevarication and subterfuge ever surrounds the North Pole, after all. It's just north of Greenland in the Arctic Ocean - simple.

In my opinion, my old school teachers were dead right: there is no true South Pole! So why keep pretending that there is? Well, I suppose one would be denying people all those prestigious "South Pole" photo opportunities, plus the prestige of one nation in claiming to have "a permanently functioning research station" at the true south pole if one owned up to the truth. I had all these thoughts running through my mind for years, then I finally got the chance to put my question to a former senior geographer, now retired, unfortunately he did not want me to use his name. I asked, "In your opinion, does the South Pole actually exist?" His response surprised me by it's swift bluntness, "No, and it never has; it's just nonsense." He confirmed that our 1950's school teachers were right.

Robin A. Brace. September 22nd, 2017.