Global warming is responsible for massive changes in the Arctic landscape.
Seriously, though, this would be the first time in a million years the Arctic sea was ice-free. The ramifications are huge, including possible extinction of the polar bear and accelerated warming of the Greenland ice sheet.
New climatology data, taken from 1972 through 2004, reveals a sharp decline in the total amount of Arctic Sea ice. Chief scientist Pablo Clemente-Col³n has summed up recent analyses:
The new datasets show shrinkage in the Arctic Ocean summer ice cover of more than eight percent per decade and gives us concrete information with which to develop improved seasonal and long-term forecasts in the future.
The data come from a satellite controlled by the U.S. National Ice Center, NOAA, the Navy and the Coast Guard, who have regularly monitored the Arctic and Antarctic for navigational purposes.
Now the information is making its debut in climatology and may take a leading role in supplying more accurate climate change impact assessments.