How Ice Cam #2 Learned to Swim as the North Pole Melted

Swimming Arctic Ice Cam #2

This was what our hero, APL’s North Pole Ice Camera #2, looked like about two weeks ago. The only open water was a far-off leed barely visible in the upper left hand corner of the image.

Then, about a week ago, melt began to set in on the ice sheet surface near the North Pole. Things started to look bad for North Pole Camera #2 as small puddles of very cold water began to appear.

Melt Puddles North Pole Camera 2

Was there much hope our Camera #2 might stay dry? It was, after all, just July 13th. And there was still more than a month and half of melt season left. What was a North Pole Camera to do?

And as the water continued to advance, the answer became clear: start learning to swim.

North Pole Camera 2 in Melt Pool

In this image, taken on July 18th, we see North Pole Camera #2 just starting to get its feet wet.

North Pole water is quite cold! But not so cold as Arctic ice or wind or snow. These the North Pole Camera was very used to. In fact, it was built to handle such harsh weather. So North Pole Camera #2 had some reason to hope for staying warm if it got wet. But could it stay afloat?

Camera 2 now in icy water.

Camera 2 now in icy water.

Then, just one day later, Camera #2 found itself standing alone in the icy water. It was now in the midst of a large melt lake with very little snow cover left. Our Camera #2 now knew what was coming. And it was ready.

North Pole Camera 2 immersed in Melt Lake

A good thing, because North Pole Camera #2 soon found itself with more than 1 foot of melt lake water splashing around its base.

It was a miserable, windy cloudy day and our camera sat alone, tethered to a stake, in a giant, expanding melt lake. It couldn’t help but wonder if soon it would have to face the open ocean. Clouds mounded all around it, and weather reports called for a massive storm. Our North Pole Camera #2 knew that in recent years such Cyclones increasingly broke, cracked and flooded the thinning ice it was sent to observe.

So North Pole Camera #2 waited in its melt lake for the storm that was, even now, forming. Would the North Pole melt entirely and send our camera out into the raging Arctic seas? We wait and watch:

Ice Cam Rainbow


Take a look at this animation of our swimming North Pole Camera provided by A-Team over at the Arctic Ice Blog


Leave a comment


  1. Robert, this is for the first time or not?



    • We’ve had melt ponds near the North Pole before. That said, this particular rash of them started early and the ice there is far thinner than usual.


  2. pH

     /  July 22, 2013

    I can’t help wondering: Are the pictures of camera #2 taken by a camera #1 or some other way? Are these pictures taken from a ship or houseboat or some other nearby outpost? What’s going on up there?


  3. Nightvid

     /  July 22, 2013

    Looks like most of the ice in that area is first year ice this year. The only other year with FYI at the north pole was 2008. Though it appears that every year may be like that now, as the ice is so unstable.


  4. jolene

     /  July 26, 2013

    wow and what comes next


  1. North Pole Melting: Ice Camera 2 Swims as Camera 1 Gets its Feet Wet | robertscribbler
  2. July 22, 2013, another day that will live in infamy

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