Photo fakery makes the e-mail rounds

"Completely fake! There's just not that kind of open water at the pole. The image is not showing the geographic North Pole. Maybe it's supposed to be North Pole, Aka.? It's not clear in the e-mail. Still, it's probably a composite of some real photos, but as a whole, it's a fake."

Campbell said that she plans to provide some Internet education sessions for her well-heeled polar vacationers, who pay up to $24,000 for a visit to the North Pole.

"When it comes to Internet claims and pictures, people need to practice discernment," she said. "How to discern what's true and what's false in cyberspace is a critical skill today."

Campbell said that arctic ice hummocks typically rise only 5 feet above the surrounding ice. There's simply no terra firma at the North Pole-only ice-unlike what appears in the e-mail image.

American adventurers John Huston and Tyler Fish completed an historic trek to the North Pole earlier this year, but they returned to the U.S. in late April, so the May 11 photo cannot be linked to them. Furthermore, news archives reveal no North Polar expedition anytime during the month of May; it appears that no human ever set foot at the geographic North Pole between April and late June of this year.

This writer also contacted Lonnie Dupre, a respected Minnesota-based arctic researcher and explorer; he agrees-the image is a fake.

Dupre has retraced the icy footsteps of famous polar explorers from Knud Rasmussen to Frederick Cook to the top of the world. He is also an accomplished photographer with extensive knowledge of astronomical events as observed from far above the Arctic Circle.

"I've spent most of my life in the Arctic as well as trips to the North Pole. I've never seen anything like it," Dupre said. "I believe it is fake and any astronomer worth his or her weight could tell you the same."

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