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article imagePhoto: North Pole ice melts, shallow lake on top of the world

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jul 26, 2013 in Environment
A photo shows a melt pond estimated at about a foot deep that has formed this summer at the North Pole. The image comes from a webcam set up by the North Pole Environmental Observatory that has been monitoring Arctic sea ice since the spring of 2000.
The photos below compare what the North Pole looks like now after two weeks of warm weather in July with what it looked like in April this year.
The lake consists entirely of meltwater over a thin layer of melting ice, and not sea water seeping from the ocean.
According William Wolfe-Wylie writing in Canada.com: "It’s a shallow lake. It’s a cold lake. But it is, actually, a lake."
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, large parts of the Arctic Ocean saw temperatures 1 to 3 degrees Celsius higher than average this July, usually the warmest month in the Arctic.
Live Science reports a large part of the Arctic is now covered in thin ice that makes it easy for melt ponds to form and coalesce into larger shallow lakes.
However, experts have noted that the seasonal thawing is part of a recent pattern and is therefore not unusual compared to the pattern obtained in recent years.
North Pole: Winter ice cover
North Pole: Winter ice cover
North Pole Environmental Observatory
Lake at the North Pole
Lake at the North Pole
North Pole Environmental Observatory
Records show that seasonal melting has been observed in the North Pole since 2002 as part of a global trend of rising temperatures. Thus, besides serving an additional note of caution, it is not possible to draw any conclusions about the long term course of climate change from this season's ice melt.
According to i09, James Morison, principal investigator for the North Pole Environmental Observatory, said: "I have seen much more extensive ponding. Because we use wide angle lenses the melt pond looks much bigger than it is."
According to Morison, a camera placed only 100 meters away showed intact ice.
Last year's summer thaw was the highest in recent times, while the last winter saw the ninth heaviest snow cover since satellite observations began in the 1970.
A cyclone due to hit the Arctic this week will cause more ice to melt, according to the North Pole Environmental Observatory.
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