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Satellite images of the Arctic show large openings in the perennial
ice cover, yet another consequence of greenhouse warming,
scientists announced this week.
The Arctic's thick perennial sea ice typically survives the warmth
of the summer and lasts through the year. But satellite images taken
in late August show that up to 10 percent of the perennial sea ice has
been fractured by summer storms.
The surprising change involves an area larger than the size of the
The minimum ice extent—the lowest amount of ice recorded in the
area annually—has shrunk from 3 million square miles in the early
1980's to less than 2 million square miles in 2005.
A recent study showed that between 2004 and 2005, the ice shrunk by
14 percent, a decrease in area the size of Texas.
"If this anomaly trend continues, the North-East Passage or 'Northern
Sea Route'between Europe and Asia will be open over longer intervals
of time, and it is conceivable we might see attempts at sailing around
the world directly across the summer Arctic Ocean within the next
10-20 years," Drinkwater said.