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WILDLIFE NOW!

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WILDLIFE NOW!

Dramatic melting of sea ice due to global warming is having a major impact on the polar region John Vidal

Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent as early as this weekend, in “dramatic changes� signalling that man-made global warming is having a major impact on the polar region.

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With the melt happening at

we are losing more seasonal ice. The

an unprecedented rate of more than

rate of ice loss is faster than the mod-

100,000 sq km a day, and at least a

els can capture [but] we can expect

week of further melt expected before

the Arctic to be ice-free in summer by

ice begins to reform ahead of the

2050,” said Stroeve.

northern winter, satellites are expect-

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ed to confirm the record – currently

“Only 15 years ago I didn’t expect to

set in 2007 – within days.

see such dramatic changes – no one

did. The ice-free season is far longer

“Unless something really un-

usual happens we will see the record

now. The difference between the rate

broken in the next few days. It might

of warming at the two poles is at-

happen this weekend, almost cer-

tributed to geographical differences.

tainly next week,” Julienne Stroeve, a

“Antarctica is a continent surrounded

scientist at the US National Snow and

by water, while the Arctic is an ocean

Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder,

surrounded by land. Wind and ocean

Colorado, told the Guardian.

currents around Antarctica isolate

“In the last few days it has been losing

the continent from global weather

100,000 sq km a day, a record in

patterns, keeping it cold. In contrast,

itself for August. A storm has spread

the Arctic Ocean is intimately linked

the ice pack out, opening up water,

with the climate systems around it,

bringing up warmer water. Things are

making it more sensitive to changes

definitely changing quickly.”

in climate,” said a spokesman for the

NSIDC.

Because ice thickness, vol-

ume, extent and area are all measured

differently, it may be a week before

northern Norway last week to witness

there is unanimous agreement among

this year’s record sea melt in the

the world’s cryologists (ice experts)

Arctic, we reached the edge of the

that 2012 is a record year. Four out of

Arctic polar ice cap this morning. It’s

the nine daily sea ice extent and area

far further north than expected, at

graphs kept by scientists in the US,

around 82 degrees N, but the annual

Europe and Asia suggest that records

sea ice retreat here has been nowhere

have already been broken. “The

near as great as on the Alaskan side of

whole energy balance of the Arctic is

the ice cap, where it has dramatically

changing. There’s more heat up there.

pulled back hundreds of miles further

There’s been a change of climate and

than usual.

After setting out from


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WILDLIFE NOW! The consequences of losing the Arctic’s ice coverage for the summer months are expected to be immense. If the white sea ice no longer reflects sunlight back into space, the region can be expected to heat up even more than at present. This could lead to an increase in ocean temperatures with unknown effects on weather systems in northern latitudes. In a statement, a Greenpeace spokesman said: “The disappearing Arctic still serves as a stark warning to us all. Data shows us that the frozen north is teetering on the brink. The level of ice ‘has remained far below

“Every one of the 56,000

average’ and appears to be getting thinner, leaving it more vulnerable to future melting. The consequences of

Inuits in Greenland have

further rapid ice loss at the top of the

had to adapt to the retreat

the whole planet. This is not a warn-

world are of profound importance to

ing we can afford to ignore.”

of the ice,” Statue of Liberty Underwater.

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