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Melting Polar Ice Cap Creates A Lake On Top Of The World

Sean Breslin
Published: July 30, 2013
North Pole Melt Pond

North Pole Environmental Observatory

Taken on July 25, 2013, a North Pole Environmental Observatory webcam captures a melt pond at the North Pole.

The North Pole Environmental Observatory has a shocking photo it wants you to see.

The image above, captured by the agency's webcam, shows a sizable thaw pond near the North Pole. Sea ice in the Arctic remains slightly above 2012 levels, but continues to sink below the 30-year average during the summer thaw, according to National Snow and Ice Data Center information.

(PHOTOS: 20 Bucket List-Worthy Hikes in North America)

The floating camera used to take the  image is placed atop an ice floe that moves with the ocean current shows that the camera has drifted as far south as 85 degrees latitude, according to a Climate Central report. NSIDC reports that the melt pond at the camera's location is fairly typical for this time of year. The agency's website says there is little alarm that the melting is being caused by global warming, stating that the NSIDC worries more about warm air temperatures in the winter than the summer.

Still, early July temperatures were 2 to 5 degrees warmer than average over much of the Arctic Ocean, CBSNews.com reports.

The unusually steamy temperatures yielded highs in the 90s in Siberia, a full 30 degrees above average for this time of year, according to the Atlantic Wire.

While the 2013 pace of Arctic sea ice melt remains a slight improvement from the record-low 2012 season, recent reports continue to suggest there could be a sea ice-free summer as soon as a decade or two from now.

MORE: NASA Photos Show the Scars of Climate Change

The Ash Creek Fire seen here is one of some 27,000 fires which have destroyed nearly 2 million acres of the western U.S. since the start of 2012. Extremely dry conditions, stiff winds, unusually warm weather, and trees killed by outbreaks of pine bark beetles have provided ideal conditions for the blazes. (Credit: NASA)


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