Video Showing the South Pole's Bizarre Climate Confuses the Internet

With the South Pole having no real residents, most people generally known little about it, but one TikTok video has opened a portal of questions about the area.

@joespinstheglobe has been working as a physician assistant in the medical crew at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole research station for the winter season of 2021, after consistently applying for the role for the past three years. He is technically employed by the University of Texas Medical Branch, which is indirectly contracted by the National Science Federation's U.S. Antarctic Foundation.

"I've always been enamored with Antarctica, even as a child. It just seemed like this magical, huge, empty place on the map that was waiting to be explored," Joe told Newsweek. "Then, during my training as a physician assistant one of my mentors told me all about when he was the South Pole station doctor in the 80s. I've applied for this position for about three years and then it suddenly opened for me this year, and I couldn't have been more ecstatic."

Joe hit over 2 million views in just one day, on Wednesday, after posting a video of the South Pole, explaining its six-month night.

"The South Pole's six months of night is finally ending," he wrote, as he filmed the view opening the doors to show the landscape. A slightly lit-up sky is visible above a whole stretch of the snow desert. Joe's crunchy snow steps can be heard filling the deafening silence.

With so many views, and so little often known about the Antarctic region, confusion set in among TikTok users in response to the South Pole's six months of night.

"If the earth is round, how can it go dark for six months?" asked one commenter.

The video can also be seen in full here.

For most places on Earth, we get both night and day in one 24-hour time span, as the Earth rotates on its axis once every 24 hours. For the Antarctic circle however, which is located at the Earth's axis, the sun does not rise for a whole six months. During its winter solstice (summer in the Northern hemisphere), the Earth tilts away—and with it the South Pole—from the sun on its axis. Only around the halfway point of the year does the South Pole begin to face the sun. In effect, in the summer, the sky is always light in Antarctica. At this same time, the North Pole is in the midst of its own six months of night.

"I actually barely noticed until about late July (three months into total darkness) and then suddenly, it felt like my body just wanted to hibernate," Joe told Newsweek. "I found myself needing about twice as much sleep as usual to feel rested, and I would be able to take naps anytime. My energy level was definitely lower as well. I started exhibiting some of the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which as you can imagine, is a common concern down here."

"However, with the sun coming back and seeing more and more light on the horizon every day," he said, adding that vitamin D supplements are always advised. "I was only here for about six weeks of constant sunlight, but I found that it had the opposite effect as the dark (which is also common down here). I found I needed two-three hours less sleep each night, and generally felt like I had more energy. My room doesn't have a window, so I don't need to worry about blocking out the sunlight, but about half the rooms do and people fabricate window covers to help them sleep."

With such extremities, it's unsurprising that the South Pole is home to hardly any humans, with the only inhabitants being working researchers. Antarctica has been recorded as the coldest place on earth, with an average temperature of around -76 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and the entire region being what is known as a snow desert.

It's down to places like TikTok, and creators like Joe, to share a glimpse of life in regions like the South Pole, answering questions followers may have.

Joe shares information on his TikTok channel on Antarctic life, including how they power the stations using diesel generators to make heat which is then transformed into an antifreeze solution and pumped throughout the station.

With a lot of mystery of course come a lot of theories, many of which Joe debunks on his channel, confirming that there are "no lizard people," "no pyramids" and that contrary to popular belief, planes that fly over will not be shot down.

"There's the smattering of flat earthers and conspiracy theorists, which always starts a lively discussion in the comments," explained Joe. "A lot of commenters that think I'm a paid government shill, that say Antarctica or the South Pole isn't real. Always entertaining."

Night sky of South Pole above station
The southern lights, over the geodesic dome at the National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, 22 May 2002. The aluminium dome has housed the main station buildings since the 1970s. Jonathan Berry/Getty Images

Update 9/02/21, 9:14 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comments from Joe.