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The Russians had set up research station "North Pole 35" on the floe last September when it measured a safe five kilometres long and three kilometres wide, and their original plan was to stay on it until this September.
But after enduring the permanent night of the Arctic winter and surviving the threat of polar bears, the scientists now find that their temporary home has shrunk to just 600m by 300m and faces complete break-up as it drifts towards a current known to contain relatively warm
This evacuation comes as Canadian researchers report that the melting of the Arctic ice this year started at least four weeks ahead of the long-term average.
Separate teams of scientists in Canada and the US have forecast that this year's seasonal melt of Arctic sea-ice may well reach or exceed last year's record thaw in which the ice retreated to an extent not predicted for several decades.