The North Pole is supposed to be icy. It's where Santa and polar bears live, after all.
But, right now, there's a small lake at the North Pole. Here's an image from the wide-angle camera trained on a weather buoy maintained by the North Pole Environmental Observatory.
Paired with the long-time decline in sea ice across the arctic due to global warming, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the Arctic sea ice is in an epic freefall. I mean, when there is a pond at the North Pole, things have gotten bad, right?
And generally speaking, sea ice extent seems to be under considerable pressure. There is less ice during the summer than there used to be. But the specific story about the pond at the North Pole presents us with a little more complex symbol of change.
Yes, there is a meltwater pond at the north pole, and perhaps in some previous climate states, that would not have happened. But this is not the first time scientists have observed a melt pond at the North Pole, nor is it the largest.
"I have seen much more extensive ponding," James Morison, the principal investigator for the North Pole Environmental Observatory told me in an email. "Because we use wide angle lenses the melt pond looks much bigger than it is."