The North Pole is currently a lake, thanks to rapidly-melting ice. The shallow body of water is about a foot deep and isn’t the result of sea water overtaking ice.
Rather, it consists of melted ice itself — a sign that global warming may be all too real. And it’s not the first time this has happened. The lake has been appearing each year around the same time.
The photos of the North Pole lake were taken by the North Pole Environmental Observatory, which has monitored sea ice in the Arctic since 2000, reports The Atlantic Wire.
This year’s lake began forming on July 13 after the Arctic Ocean experienced temperatures two to five degrees warmer than normal. And meltwater ponds are common in the Arctic, where more than half of the sea ice is thin and newly formed. USA Today reports that an Arctic cyclone is due to pass by the North Pole soon, making the melting even worse.
While the North Pole wasn’t always like this, scientists say it’s become a vicious cycle. As the ice melts, the water picks up more radiation from the sun, making the area even warmer than it would be otherwise.
This makes the Arctic sea ice a very noticeable victim of climate change. While the ice cover near the North Pole expands and contracts with the seasons, last summer’s minimum extent set a record for the lowest amount ever seen. And this year’s maximum winter coverage was the sixth-lowest since satellite observations of the area started in the 1970s.
While the North Pole’s lake certainly isn’t the first, it’s also not the worst, providing hope that the Arctic isn’t suffering too much. It is also just one data point, meaning the lake could have nothing to do with climate change at all.
Are you surprised to hear that the North Pole is currently a lake?
[Image via ShutterStock]