Al Gore's "Reality Minions" think the North Pole is melting – except that's NOT a photo of the North Pole

Even journalists get tripped up into thinking this is photo from the North Pole. At the real North Pole, history shows this to be a relatively common occurrence.

It isn’t very hard to catch Al Gore and his Climate Reality project followers in ridiculous claims that don’t hold up. For example there was his statement on national television where he claimed the temperature of the interior of the Earth was “millions of degrees” and then there is his “Climate 101” video that failed so they had to fake the results in post production. None of his followers call him out on such things, so it isn’t a surprise to find that they think this photo proves the North Pole is melting, far worse than before.

Gore_CRP_NPmelt Drifting_webcam_Capture

Only one problem: that picture wasn’t taken at the North Pole, it was taken over 300 miles away. 

You see while they were busy lecturing the faithful, they forgot the one teensy-eeensy little detail about the source of this photo. It is from camera on top of the sea ice, and sea ice isn’t static, it moves. In fact according to the University of Washington who manages and tracks  these floating cameras and weather stations, while they started out near the North Pole, they aren’t anywhere close to it now. See the map:


My annotations added, original source:

The North Pole Environmental Observatory web page describes their weather stations and webcams as “an automated scientific observatory in the central Arctic ocean” and describes the “Barneo 2013 buoy farm — including webcams.”

This “North Pole melted” image (and variants) got a lot of media play last week, showing the “lake at the North Pole” such as this AtlanticWire story saying “The North Pole has Metled Again” and this Daily Mail story, titled “The North Pole turns into a lake: Webcam captures melting ice following a spell of warm weather“.

That was enough to spur the sans-factually emotive Huffington Post into action with a before and after comparator:


Of course, like the Gore Reality Bots, all of these “journalists” also missed the simple fact that the photo was taken hundreds of miles away where the buoy had drifted to. They could easily check this themselves with about 30 seconds of work, visiting the source for the photo here:

Some of the blame for this nonsense goes to the University of Washington’s Dr. James Morison, who manages the page titled: “North Pole Environmental Laboratory”. When that page was put together, the Arctic hadn’t become the poster child for global warming yet, so the the naming was probably innocuous.  However, that naming leaves the “webcam at the North Pole” assumption wide open for those that are factually challenged or just too lazy to check.

Using the contact info linked above, I’m sending a letter to Dr. Morison, asking him to fix this issue, naming the page something else, so fools won’t make the same mistake again next year. The webcam/weather station buoys spend most of their lifetime away from the North Pole, so the name of the web page is misleading, as has been aptly demonstrated by the fools in journalism and activism that didn’t look beyond the title this past week.

And, as of today, the “North Pole melt crisis” seems to be over.


And, of course, photos actually taken at the North Pole by the US Navy show that such open water is a regular occurrence in the past:

Skate (SSN-578), surfaced at the North Pole, 17 March 1959.

Skate (SSN-578), surfaced at the North Pole, 1959. (US Navy photo)

Seadragon (SSN-584), foreground, and her sister Skate (SSN-578) during a rendezvous at the North Pole in August 1962

Seadragon (SSN-584), foreground, and her sister Skate (SSN-578) during a rendezvous at the North Pole in August 1962 (US Navy Photo)


HMS Superb, USS Billfish, and USS Sea Devil in a North Pole rendezvous in 1987
(U.S. Navy Photo)


UPDATE: NYT’s Andrew Revkin pointed out the same issue is his essay:

A Closer Look at That ‘North Pole Lake’

Revkin has a unique perspective, in that he’s one of the few reporters on the planet that has actually visited the North Pole with a science team.

He notes:

A Web search for “North Pole lake” turns up a lot of hype. I posted a YouTube video trying to clarify what is and isn’t going on:

Ponds of meltwater form routinely on Arctic Ocean sea ice in the summer. The sea ice is floating on the Arctic Ocean and in constant motion. The autonomous camera that took these images was placed on the ice a few dozen miles from the North Pole in early spring, but has since drifted hundreds of miles.


I’ve heard back from Dr. Morison at UW. He’s aware of the problem saying:

The lesson I’ve taken from this is that we need to do a much better job of explaining these images. What looks normal to those of us familiar with this particular environment can look alarming if we don’t provide the context.

I expect that we’ll see some improvements to the web page to discourage such future misunderstandings.  I thank Dr. Morison for the willingness to engage the issue with me and to consider improvements.


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Jacob Mack

Well done!


It matters little if this story is “corrected.” Most people just see it once, and will believe it forever. This is just like the Lemming suicide myth created in the 50s by Disney Studios. Seen once – believed in forever.


I remember flying over the N. Pole, (or at least the flight deck announced that we were at the N. Pole), in an SAS airliner in August 1964 and there were lots of open leads. I have a photo somewhere.


I remember seeing those lemmings being flung over a cliff by the film crew. They had to gather individuals from three different species and two continents to get enough of them for the shoot.

Man Bearpig

Just went to the University Website link above, followed the link through to the webcams ( and read Q4 ..
4) Is the appearance of the pond due to global warming?
No, not specifically. These melt ponds are a normal part of the seasonal cycle of the sea ice. 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.

Chris R.

Huh. Have they printed a retraction yet?

Bloke down the pub

The photo taken on the 29th seems to show fresh snow on top of the ice.


Even journalists get tripped up into thinking this is photo from the North Pole.

My question would be when do they not get tripped up? remember the Beirut photo? And that was years ago (3 identical plumes arising from the city).
2nd, you answered my other question – how did they anchor the buoy to the see floor over the north pole. Answer, they did not.

This seems a highly relevant place to repeat an exchange I had with Vuk on exactly this photo elsewhere;
Tonyb said;
This was noted by the author in the library of the Scott Polar institute in Cambridge and has parallels in one of the news items previously quoted;
‘Observational data of the drifting station 1950-51-by M Somov -Volume 1 of 3 of this Russian North pole station on an ice floe.’
Middle of June onwards ‘the melting of the snow and ice took place very quickly although the air temperature remained close to freezing’
‘the sun shone…could walk about without a coat…some even tried to get a sun tan.’
‘because of the thaw an enormous amount of water accumulated on the ice’
‘walking was only possible if one wore high rubber boots reaching above the knees’ (because of the water sitting on the ice.
‘many problems because of the thawing.’
The book described how later in the season some high spots became dry and these were little hillocks in a sea of icy water sitting on solid ice. This caused me to ask the following question of NSIDC;
“ … did pre satellite researchers estimating sea ice extent tell the difference between water, water floating on ice, and solid ice, and how can satellites differentiate between the three states? I was struck by Russian reports from the 1950’s at The Scott Polar institute in Cambridge when staff at the floating research stations commented about using Wellington boots in order to walk around the station, and how little dry ice islands eventually formed by the end of the summer surrounded by water on top of ice.”
I received the following reply from Julienne Stroeve ;(reproduced with permission)
“ … using passive microwave data it is very easy to tell the difference between ice and water as the dielectric constant differs quite a bit and this is reflected in large differences in the microwave emission. The main advantage of using passive microwave is that it can see the ice even if it’s cloudy or dark. There is a problem however in summer when melt ponds form on the ice since the sea ice algorithms then underestimate how much ice there really is (they think it’s open water).
That’s one reason why we focus on extent rather than true ice area for the NSIDC sea ice news and analysis web site.
Visible and thermal imagery provides higher spatial resolution but is often hampered by clouds. Trying to do this work using earlier visible and thermal imagery requires the scientists to go through each image and manually filter out the clouds and determine where the ice is.”
vukcevic | July 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Reply
‘walking was only possible if one wore high rubber boots reaching above the knees’ (because of the water sitting on the ice.”
Hi Tony
The article accompanying the video said that currently the water depth is around 30 cm, which is in line with your quote.
Ergo: nothing new, it was seen before; Arctic ice is just following its natural variability.
As can be seen this has all happened before and a further complication is introduced when we can’t even define the meaning of ice


It depends on what the meaning of ice is.

Michael Jennings

Gosh Anthony, you sure are picky. What’s 300 miles among friends? 😉

One of the absolutely silliest stories is here:
Dramatic images from an automated webcam scanning the North Pole reveal a lake where solid ice used to be.
“It looks amazing,” Dr. James Morrison of the North Pole Environmental Observatory, told the Star. “It looks like it’s Lake Tahoe or something.”
The devil is in the details, though, if you’re a veteran polar scientist such as Morrison.
What he sees is an incremental sign of the relentless erosion of Arctic sea ice. What he also sees, comparing this with all the other webcam images over the months, is a loss of 30 to 40 centimetres of ice.
Even more telling, Morrison said, is what you can’t see.

Just so you know…

Robert of Ottawa

Thanks for two new photos to add to my collection of submarines at the North Pole. I use them as desktops on my various devices; the ultimate dive.


It matters not! The “damage”, media speak, has been done. 300 miles south of the north pole? That’s many more miles short of anyone who’s been anywhere near, north, of that region.

I have before and after pictures at my site:
I think JimS may be right about some people, however still think it is worthwhile to send before and after pictures of the meltwater pond growing and then vanishing. By describing it as a lake, and even dubbing it “Lake North Pole,” an illusion was created by Alarmists, and by showing how swiftly the “lake” vanished, the illusion is shattered. Americans are used to being tricked by commercials and politicians, and will likely laugh about this latest trick. The important thing is to make them aware the trick was a trick.


I think the majority of people on ARS are Al Gore “Reality Minions”. The mark down anyone that provides facts. The latest case being the photo in this article.


Would this be the same camera that Roy Spencer used on his blog in the post “Big Bird at the North Pole”?

William Astley

The media is reporting news using an outdated filter, paradigm. They are assuming Arctic sea ice will continue to decline. The media is affected by the Oz principal (From the film the Wizard of Oz Where the heroine, Dorothy, is told if you say something emphatically three times and it becomes true). The warmists have told us a zillion times, very emphatically that the majority of the warming in the last 70 year is due to the increase in atmospheric CO2 and everyone starts to believe that statement is true, regardless of whether it is or is not true.
The media needs to come to Wattsup to get an update on the climate issues. Climate change is changing.
I suppose the media must have missed the fact that Arctic temperatures are colder than normal which would indicate there will be a recovery of Arctic sea ice and that there is now record sea ice around the Antarctic continent for all months of the year which indicates there is the start of cooling both poles.
Also the Greenland Ice sheet has started to cool which is not surprising as each and very time the solar magnetic cycle changed from a grand minimum to a Maunder like minimum the Greenland Ice sheet cooled.
Greenland ice temperature, last 11,000 years determined from ice core analysis, Richard Alley’s paper.


“It’s moved away from the North Pole region and it will eventually exit Fram Strait,” said Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., in an interview. Fram Strait lies between Greenland and Norway, and is one of the main routes for sea ice to get flushed out of the Arctic Ocean.
The second thing to keep in mind is that melting sea ice at or near the North Pole is actually not a rare event. Observations from the webcams dating back to 2002, and from satellite imagery and nuclear-powered submarines that have explored the ice cover since the Cold War era dating back several decades, show that sea ice around the North Pole has formed melt ponds, and even areas of open water, several times in the past.
The webcam depicting what seems like open water is most likely “just sitting in a big melt pond” that has formed on top of the sea ice cover, Serreze said. This melt pond started forming around July 10, and is likely close to its peak depth and extent. The occurrence of a melt pond at or near the North Pole is “just not that unusual,” Serreze said, and is even less rare at a more southern location such as where the camera is now.
“The whole Arctic sea ice cover does show melt during summer even at the North Pole,” he said, speaking of a typical melt season.
Serreze said it’s usually possible to walk through these melt ponds with hip boot waders on, as opposed to having to swim, since there is ice underneath the meltwater.

Richard from Holland

Medled again should be Melted again i guess.


Last year stories like this came out about the Greenland ice sheet melting with these images:
Now this particular article explained further on that the Greenland ice sheet did not melt. Regardless, how many people read the whole thing? But they would read the first paragraph which says:
“This is the most frightening picture you will ever see. The information expressed visually here can be summed up in three words: change or die. So let’s take a closer look.”
There are some people, and I have met some of them, due to stories like this one and that they never read completely through, who actually believe that the Greenland ice sheet disappeared in July 2012, and you can’t convince them otherwise.
It is a battle of propaganda, as far as I see it.


I figure the reports need to be corrected so I have today written to the Editor of the Daily Mail drawing his attention to the fake/error story they ran on the 25th July. I doubt it will be corrected…but that’s no reason to do nothing.

Luther Wu

JimS says:
July 29, 2013 at 10:40 am
“It is a battle of propaganda, as far as I see it.”
You get the Gold Star next to your name.


So, were they having a week of sun? The picture where the ice has refrozen shows clouds.
Also, when you look at the Sea ice reference page and see the sattelite measurements of % ice coverage, how strongly is that affected by melt pools? What about NRL’s ice thickness measurements?


This was linked on the Drudge Report on Friday:
It took five minutes to debunk this. Camera #1 which is very near by camera #2 showed a very different view, but as you observed, a visit to the site showed neither camera were at the north pole, both being on a fast track to the North Atlantic via the annual ice conveyor stream east of Greenland. This is posted at the webcam page for those who are still capable of critical thinking and a few moments of research:
I posted a note at the Freedman story (that has not gotten past moderation) showing the reality including the refreeze. What a ridiculous climate site that is and what an idiot Andrew Freedman is.
The lack of honesty in climate alarmist hysteria is appalling.


There you guys go again letting facts get in the way of a good story. It seems every day that they are taking more historical license than Oliver Stone making a movie. Maybe he advises them.

Tom J

Isn’t the North Pole where Santa Claus has his shop where he makes Obamaphones??

John Blake

As Solar Cycle 25 takes hold amid a 70-year “dead sun” Grand Solar Minimum, even Gorista/HuffPo types will come to the startling realization: “No, my reverberating friend, you are not the Beginning and the End” (Alan J. Lerner). Too late… by then, their suppurating mendacities will be one with Nineveh and Tyre, and good riddance to ’em.

Chad Wozniak

Typical alarmist lies and disinformation.

Frank Kotler

Didn’t Nansen encounter a lot of open water near the pole? Nothing new here.

Mike Abbott

Jesse Ferrell of AccuWeather broke this story four days ago and deserves some credit:
“Did the Media Just Prove North Pole Is NOT Melting?”


Marvellous work, superbly executed. Thank you.

AGU Arctic summary, which isn’t good news for snow balls!


Maybe Morrison needs more funding.

more soylent green!

The grade-B movie “Ice Station Zeba” was on over the weekend. I swear that film is where most people get their impression of the arctic ice cap. In the film, the ice cap is a featureless, snow covered plain. Just a solid sheet of unmoving ice.

Reg Nelson

I’m surprised they didn’t add a few photo-shopped drowning polar bears to the pic.

Bill Illis

The Arctic Sea ice melt rate has really slowed down over the past 2 weeks.
There are only a few years in the record going back to 1972 that have been this small over the last 2 weeks and over the past 5 days, it is the slowest melt for this time of the year on record.
Things change of course but the melt pond arrived right at the time the sea ice melt rate slowed to one of its lowest ever. Still 45 days to go until the typical minimum on September 12th.


@Reg Nelson
Please don’t give them any ideas. LOL!

You are forgetting the most basic conventions of Post-Modern Science. The “Truth” of any conjecture is determined solely by how badly you wish it were true, and the Falsity of any information is measured by the depth of your passion that such a thing must be false. And Anyone who says different is a Denier or a Raaacist or something.

Berényi Péter

Why, there is sea ice even 10 thousand miles south of that spot, 300 miles is nothing compared to that.

Bruce Cobb

Bloke down the pub says:
July 29, 2013 at 9:51 am
The photo taken on the 29th seems to show fresh snow on top of the ice.
Exactly. I have also read that such was the case. So, the snow melts, then when temps drop sufficiently, bingo, more ice. Much ado about nothing, and par for the course for the lamebrained MSM.


WillR says:
July 29, 2013 at 10:09 am
One of the absolutely silliest stories is here:

Sharp-eyed readers already on the case.


I’m not sure why the photos of the subs is here. If it is to imply that the ice was less than today then that is misleading. We know it wasn’t and that the crew had to search for some time to find a gap in the 8 foot thick ice so they could surface. These gaps are called polynyas and are caused by wind and tide. They are temporary and soon freeze over.

Karl Blair

We have a slightly rude word in the UK to describe someone determined to air their ignorance. The word is f**kwit and it describes Gore and his acolytes perfectly. Apologies if you find the word offensive.


Something else that now frozen pond has in common with ponds we’re all familiar with – it is the lowest lying spot there, so any melt water will flow to it, exaggerating the sense of scale of the melt. Given the already exaggerated effect of the camera lens, this was a cherry for picking for the science challenged MSM to run with, and for the science drop-outs in the alarmist blogosphere to amplify. All it lacked was some photoshopped penguins and dolphins grounded on the frozen beach, burning in the 24/7 arctic sun. And maybe some of those ambulatory asters that are migrating north to escape the heat from the mid-latitudes
There needs to be a serious financial cost for printing such rubbish.



I’m not sure why the photos of the subs is here. If it is to imply that the ice was less than today then that is misleading. We know it wasn’t and that the crew had to search for some time to find a gap in the 8 foot thick ice so they could surface. These gaps are called polynyas and are caused by wind and tide. They are temporary and soon freeze over.

Actually you’re being misleading. You don’t know that the multiyear sea-ice in 1958 is more than now, because there isn’t data that gives you a reliable number.
The idea that you can use the relative difficulty of surfacing a sub through an ice sheet during a period without satellite guidance as a proxy for total arctic sea ice coverage is of course ridiculously silly


Karl Blair says:
July 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm
“Apologies if you find the word offensive.”
Which word – ‘G *re’?


Karl Blair says:
July 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm
“We have a slightly rude word in the UK to describe someone determined to air their ignorance. The word is f**kwit and it describes Gore and his acolytes perfectly. Apologies if you find the word offensive.”
Offensive? Hell it’s f**kin terrific.


Reg Nelson says:
July 29, 2013 at 11:44 am
I’m surprised they didn’t add a few photo-shopped drowning polar bears to the pic.
Or a red-nosed reindeer.