The North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean amidst waters that are almost permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice. This makes it impractical to construct a permanent station at the North Pole (unlike the South Pole). In recent years, a number of studies have predicted that the North Pole may become seasonally ice-free due to Arctic shrinkage, with timescales varying from a few years to fifty years or more. The sea depth at the North Pole has been measured at 4,261 m (13,980 ft). The nearest land is usually said to be Kaffeklubben Island, off the northern coast of Greenland about 700 km (430 mi) away, though some perhaps non-permanent gravel banks lie slightly closer.There is controversey over who was the first explorer to reach the North Pole. While Frederick A. Cook claims to have reached North in 1907, it is Robert Peary's date two years later in 1909 that is more readily accepted due to the extensive documentation and testimonies that support the trek.
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