The North Pole is a lake right now. Yeah, you read that right — there’s a small meltwater lake at the top of the world right now, as these photos from the North Pole Environmental Observatory show us. That’s an interesting thought isn’t it?
The images — and also the time-lapse video posted below — come from a webcam that set up at the North Pole by the North Pole Environmental Observatory back in the yer 2000. The webcam has documented meltwater lakes at the North Pole since the year 2002.
During the summer permanent daylight results in the warmest temperatures of the year for the region — with the warmest temperatures usually occurring in July. This year the temperatures in the area were about 1-3 degrees Celsius above average.
The shallow lake seen in the images is of course still sitting on top of a substantial ice sheet — though how much longer that ice sheet will remain intact during the summer months… That’s an open question. Once it does disappear completely during the summer months though, the region will no doubt see a vast uptick in the quantity of sea traffic moving through, as well as greatly increased exploitation of the considerable fossil fuel resources in the area, and perhaps increased human conflict as well. As has been noted by many prominent national security consultants and researchers in recent years — the Arctic may very well become the center of human activity over the next 100 or so years.
2012’s minimum summer sea ice extent was the lowest on record, and 2013’s maximum winter ice coverage was the 6th-lowest since satellite observations began during the 1970s.