A Near-Record Arctic Melting

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Science News reports that the North Pole’s Arctic ice sheet continues to melt at a rapid rate. In the last year alone, an area of ice approximately three times the size of Alaska was lost due to atmospheric warming. Arctic ice coverage has decreased by one-third since 1978, when satellite measurements of the Arctic ice sheet began.

The Science News article has a visually arresting year-by-year satellite photo animation of receding arctic ice. This year’s loss is especially significant near Alaska and Northern Russia.

The loss of Arctic and Antarctic ice has a variety of severe consequences, including rising ocean levels and harm to marine and land-based ecosystems. It's worth noting that approximately half of the seafood consumed in the United States comes from the Bering Sea region around Alaska.  This fragile ecosystem is very much at risk because of warming oceans and loss of arctic ice (discussed in Dr. Richard Feely's talkfrom Northwestern’s 2005 Global Warming symposium).

More information about sea ice is available at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Snow and Ice Data Center.

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