Thanks to rapidly-melting ice, Santa Claus now has his own swimming pool: The North Pole is currently a lake, Canada.com reports. The shallow lake—it's about a foot deep, according to LiveScience—isn't the result of sea water overtaking the ice; it consists entirely of the melted ice itself. And it's a vicious cycle, writes William Wolfe-Wylie for Canada.com. That water picks up more radiation from the sun than solid ice would, so the area is getting even warmer. At the beginning of the month, a lot of the Arctic Ocean saw temperatures two to five degrees warmer than average; the lake began forming July 13. But it's nothing new: The lake has been appearing each year, the Atlantic Wire notes.
More than half of Arctic sea ice is newly formed and thin, LiveScience reports, making it easier for meltwater ponds to form and combine. An Arctic cyclone due this week will boost the melting process even more. Visit the North Pole Environmental Observatory for images. In related news, Arctic warming could end up costing the world an extra $60 trillion, researchers say. (Compare that to the size of the global economy in 2012: $70 trillion.) That's because the methane gas emitted as the permafrost under the East Siberian Sea thaws could quicken the effects of climate change, adding to the costs heaped upon the world by global warming, the Christian Science Monitor explains. And Science Daily notes that there's far more methane in the region than just what sits under that particular sea. (Quirky related news: The CIA is studying how to control the world's climate.)