Who Discovered the South Pole?

The facts about the South Pole show that James Cook was the first to circumnavigate Antarctica. He wasn’t able to land, but seeing the rocks in the ice, realized that there was land beyond it.

Some claim American John Davis was the first to land on continental Antarctica on February 7, 1821. It should be noted that Davis’ landing is not accepted by all historians.

The Early 1800s

Following Cook, several seafarers ventured forth to explore the continent and its surroundings. Among the earliest ones were Capt. Thaddeus Bellingshausen (January 27, 1820), the British explorer Will Smith and Nathaniel Palmer, an American.

Another interesting fact about the South Pole is that prior to 1821, no one stayed for extended periods. This changed in the winter of 1821 when 11 British men aboard the British ship Lord Melville stayed there for a winter season. They stayed at the South Shetlands Group, north of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Mid to Late 1800s

By this time the existence of Antarctica was confirmed by numerous sailing expeditions by the American, British and French. In 1840, James Ross came to within 80 miles of the coast. He came across an ice shelf as well as volcanoes. He also saw over a hundred types of fish swimming there.

Some of the facts about the South Pole can be hard to verify because of conflicting claims. In 1899, Captain Borchgrevink made it to Cape Adare and set up an establishment there. Some historians accept this as the first landing on Antarctica. The reason for the contradictory reports is due to the numerous explorations that took place, almost at the same time.

1900s and Onwards

In the early 1900s, numerous expeditions to the South Pole continued. In January 1909, Australian Douglas Mawson reached the South Magnetic Pole. On December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen and his team made it to the South Pole. On January 18, 1812, Mawson made his way back. He not only discovered new coasts but he was also the first to use radio.

Two other facts about the South Pole are worth mentioning: by the 1920s, factory whaling ships were coming out at the Ross Sea, and in 1928, George Wilkins (Australia) and Carl Eielson (America) became the first to fly over the continent.


From March to September there is no Sun in the South Pole. It is completely dark from May to July. The only time it gets sunlight is from September to March. It has an altitude of 9,186 ft. The summer temperature is -12 F.

After six months it goes down to -49 F. During the wintertime it goes down to -85 F. The highest temperature reached was 7.5 F. There is very little humidity in the air. There is very little precipitation. But there are high winds. This has been known to cause snowfalls, reaching up to 20 cm a year.

Hundreds of expeditions have been conducted and more are taking place. This will undoubtedly provide more facts about the South Pole.

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