Subj: Open Water at the Pole
Date: 8/19/00 8:36:24 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (James Cleland)
Warmer weather melts ice at North Pole
August 19, 2000, 12:45 PM

NEW YORK - For the first time in 50 million years, visitors to the North Pole can see something extraordinary: water.

The thick ice that covers the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole has melted, leaving a mile-wide stretch of water at the top of the world, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Two recent visitors to the pole told the Times about the unexpected sight.

"I don't know if anybody in history ever got to 90 degrees north to be greeted by water, not ice," said Malcolm C. McKenna, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

The water could be the result of global warming, although there is a debate among experts about the cause. Some believe it could simply be a natural occurrence rather than the result of a "greenhouse effect" caused by manmade pollution and increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Scientists have said that the last time the North Pole had this much water was 50 million years ago.

For oceanographer James C. McCarthy, who visited the pole earlier this month on a tourist cruise, the disappearing ice was a cause for concern. Passengers aboard the cruise were shocked to find water when there has long been only ice.

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