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Author Topic: What happens to time zones at the North Pole?  (Read 11027 times)

m reynolds

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What happens to time zones at the North Pole?
« on: 18/09/2008 10:31:27 »
m reynolds  asked the Naked Scientists:

Hi Chris - I am Mike Reynolds from Somerset West -

A question for you - I have a son living in New York - his time is 6 hours behind us in Cape Town. If my son proceeded north up the relative line of longitude passing through New York, and I did similar from Cape Town, would we still be 6 hours apart when we shook hands at the north pole?

Mike Reynolds

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 24/09/2008 17:34:13 by chris »


 

Offline Evie

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Re: What happens to time zones at the North Pole?
« Reply #1 on: 19/09/2008 15:38:48 »
Well, yes, the time zone lines do follow lines of longitude, and technically, they stretch all the way to both poles, so you could walk around the south pole in a circle and traverse all of the time zones. That's not very practical if you're going to be down there doing research or anything, though.

Neither the arctic nor antarctic make up their own nation, in which case they could establish what time zone they would follow. The arctic region generally uses GMT (or UTC), but this isn't a hard and fast rule.

Scientists from different countries travelling to Antarctica generally use their own country's time for ease of messages and data, etc. If there is a multi-national expedition, I'm sure they just come to an agreement of which one to use or use GMT. The South Pole station (Amundsen-Scott Station) uses New Zealand time, since the scientists who live and work there travel to Antarctica from Christchurch.

North Pole webcam: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/np2003/gallery_np_questions.html
Current South Pole time and conditions: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/city.html?n=468
U.S. Anarctic Program webcam: http://www.usap.gov/videoclipsandmaps/spwebcam.cfm (disabled right now, but still a good website).
« Last Edit: 19/09/2008 15:41:09 by Evie »
 

Offline techmind

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What happens to time zones at the North Pole?
« Reply #2 on: 24/09/2008 22:37:22 »
I have a son living in New York - his time is 6 hours behind us in Cape Town. If my son proceeded north up the relative line of longitude passing through New York, and I did similar from Cape Town, would we still be 6 hours apart when we shook hands at the north pole?

In principle yes (assuming you could figure out *exactly* where the north pole is (GPS I suppose?).
In practice however, once you're inside the arctic circle the sun never sets in summer and never properly rises in winter, so the concept of time-of-day somewhat looses its meaning.
 

Offline stevewillie

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What happens to time zones at the North Pole?
« Reply #3 on: 05/10/2008 20:24:00 »
I have a son living in New York - his time is 6 hours behind us in Cape Town. If my son proceeded north up the relative line of longitude passing through New York, and I did similar from Cape Town, would we still be 6 hours apart when we shook hands at the north pole?

In principle yes (assuming you could figure out *exactly* where the north pole is (GPS I suppose?).
In practice however, once you're inside the arctic circle the sun never sets in summer and never properly rises in winter, so the concept of time-of-day somewhat looses its meaning.

The sun fails to set at the arctic circle at the summer solstice (around June 21)only. As you go north from the circle the number of days of continuous sunlight (sun above the horizon) increases eventually reaching six months at the north pole. On June 21, the sun appears to move in a circle around the pole at an angle of about 23 degrees after which it slowly spirals down finally setting around Sept 21.

The same is true for darkness. At the arctic circle, there is just one day where the sun never rises (around Dec 21). As you go north, the number of sunless (sun never actually rises) days increase reaching six months at the pole. At sunrise at the pole (around March 21), the sun circles the horizon and gradually climbs in a spiral fashion until it reaches its maximum height (about 23 degrees) on June 21.       
 

Offline turnipsock

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What happens to time zones at the North Pole?
« Reply #4 on: 05/10/2008 21:05:52 »
We had a similar question before but for the South Pole. The answer there was the same as New Zealand time as they got their supplies from NZ.

(Is this the same Mike Reynolds from Popmaster and Jeremy Vine?)
 

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What happens to time zones at the North Pole?
« Reply #4 on: 05/10/2008 21:05:52 »

 

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