Explorers rowing to the Magnetic North Pole

A team of explorers will row to the Magnetic North PoleA few days back, a crew of six adventurers set out in a specially designed rowboat on a 450-mile journey to the Magnetic North Pole. The six-week long journey began in Resolute Bay, Canada and will end when the team becomes the first to row to the Pole, which is located in a remote area of the Arctic Ocean.

Not to be confused with the Geographic North Pole, the Magnetic North Pole is actually the location on the surface of the Earth that a compass points to in the Northern Hemisphere. Over the years, that point has been known to change and move, but it is currently located at the coordinates of 78°35.7N 104°11.9W. The Geographic NP is, of course, found at the top of the world, at exactly 90°N.

This expedition is led by Jock Wishart, a veteran polar explorer and ocean rower. He is joined by a crew of experienced sailors and adventurers that includes Mark Delstanche, Billy Gammon, Rob Sleep, David Mans, and Mark Beaumont. The plan is for the team to row in three hour shifts, as they make slow, but steady, progress toward their goal.

According to the expedition’s website, the crew launched amidst good weather on Saturday, with low winds and temperatures hovering around 55°F. That is quite warm for the Arctic, and those conditions aren’t expected to last, as even in the summer, the temperatures can fall well below freezing and high winds can make travel extremely challenging.

If all goes as planned, the team should reach their goal sometime around the middle of September. You’ll be able to follow their progress at RowToThePole.com, which includes blog updates from the water, live GPS tracking, and plenty of information about the boat and her crew.

[Photo credit: RowToThePole.com]

The North Pole is moving!

According to National Geographic, a new research study shows that the magnetic North Pole is changing positions at a surprisingly quick pace, sliding towards Russia at a speed of about 40 miles per year. Traditionally, the Pole has been located in Northern Canada, but these rapid shifts are causing it to jump dramatically.

Scientists believe that changes deep within the Earth’s molten core are to blame for the shift, although it is difficult to measure and track those changes. Researchers have detected a disturbance on the surface of the core that is creating a “magnetic plume” which is responsible for the change in the Pole’s location, but how that plume was created remains a mystery.

The shifting of the magnetic pole is not quite as problematic as it once would have been. For centuries the North Pole has been used for navigational purposes, but for the most part, standard compasses have been replaced with sophisticated GPS tracking systems. Still, many explorers, mountaineers, backpackers, and the like still prefer using a compass over an electronic device. As the pole shifts position, they’ll need to learn to take into account its new location when plotting their course.

At this point, scientists are unsure exactly how far the pole will move or if it will become a permanent shift in location. The mysterious plume could dissipate and cause the pole to return to its original position, not far from Canada’s Ellesmere Island, or it could continue to move for years to come.