Where Is the Actual North Pole?

You won’t get there on a magical sleigh

A few things that may come to mind when you think of the North Pole are Santa, reindeer, friendly elves or penguins. You may even think the North Pole is the same as the South Pole, just on the opposite side of the earth.

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These are all common misconceptions of the North Pole, but perhaps the biggest one is the idea that the North Pole is made up of any land at all. The North Pole is actually a fixed location in the middle of the ocean.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the real geographical North Pole has no land. It’s not like in children’s books where you can go skiing with penguins or greet a narwal. It’s actually a bunch of ice packs that drift on top of the Arctic Ocean. So if you planned to visit Santa up there, bring a wetsuit.

The ice is about 6-10 feet thick above an ocean that is more than 13,123 feet deep. So you better tread lightly if you ever go there. The South Pole, in comparison, sits on top of a landmass, Antarctica, at more than 9,000 feet above sea level.

Because the ice is constantly floating, it is not steady enough for people or animals to form a home there. However, polar bears and walruses sometimes go to the North Pole in search of food. For researchers, the floating ice makes studying the region more difficult.

If you’re surprised by this, there are even more things you may not know about the real North Pole.