It turns out the “North Pole lake” wasn’t much of a lake after all. And, even if it was, open water where we’d expect frozen tundra is normal, climate scientists said.
Oh, and the camera used to take the hotly discussed photos wasn’t exactly at true north, not to mention the water is frozen again.
Images taken from a webcam posted at the North Pole went viral last week, with some decrying the images as signs of our impending doom.
Canada.com proclaimed “The North Pole is now a lake,” and outlets like The Atlantic picked up the story that was widely reported across the internet.
One image shows drifts of blue-white snow, while another shows a buoy apparently floating in a vast body of water.
It led the North Pole Environmental Observatory to create a webpage dedicated to debunking some of the myths and worry.
According to NPEO, melting water isn’t uncommon in the summer.
Sometimes there’s more, sometimes less, based on cracks in the ice and ice floes. What you see in the images is actually shallow water resting on the ice; it’s big, but not that worrisome.
“These melt ponds are a normal part of the seasonal cycle of the sea ice,” the website says. “With respect to global warming, we are more concerned when we see warm air temperatures in the winter that inhibit ice growth and the appearance of heat in the ocean that would melt the bottom surface of the ice.”
Updated images can be found online.
The webcam itself was probably about 300 miles from the North Pole, Reuters reported, and by Monday the water had frozen again.
Oceanographer James Morison told Reuters that anyone who has worked in the far north becomes accustomed to walking on semi-frozen water.
“Melt ponds become part of your life,” he said. “They build little plywood bridges over the melt ponds, your footwear changes completely from giant sock-like mukluks to hip-waders, and it’s really miserable.”