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North Pole

North Pole, northern end of the earth's axis, by convention at lat. 90°N. Because the earth's rotational axis wobbles slightly over time, the location where the northern end of the axis intersects the earth's surface shifts, although it is always within a few meters of the fixed geographic and cartographic position of the North Pole. The north geographic pole is distinguished from the north magnetic pole. U.S. explorer Robert E. Peary was long generally credited as being the first to reach (1909) the North Pole despite Frederick A. Cook's prior claim (1908). In 1926, Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett may have been the first persons to fly over the pole, but entries in Byrd's diary suggest that they may have missed the actual pole; if so, that feat would belong to Roald Amundsen. The first overland expedition to have unquestionably reached the pole arrived in 1968; it was led by American Ralph Plaisted and traveled by snowmobile. See also Arctic, the.

See F. Fleming, Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (2002).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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