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The sea ice minimum in the 1970s was 5.5 million square kilometers. Then in the 1980s it was 5.0 million square kilometers. Then in the 1990s it reached 4.5 million square kilometers. Then by 2005 we touched 4.01 million square kilometers as the prior record.
Then comes 2007. Oh my, does 2007 come roaring by! On August 9, 2007 we set a new record low of 3.98 million square kilometers! But just 19 days later we set a new minimum of 2.99 million square kilometers.
Did you get that yet? We lost one million square kilometers of sea ice in 19 days.
The Northwest Passage is one of the most fabled sea routes in the world - a short cut from Europe to Asia through the high Arctic.
Recent years have seen a marked shrinkage in its ice cover, but this year it was extreme, Esa says.
It says this made the passage "fully navigable" for the first time since monitoring began in 1978.
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