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September 11 2012

The rush to exploit an increasingly ice-free Arctic


Itís that time of year again, when we check in to see where the annual Arctic sea ice minimum will end up. And this year is a doozie. We havenít quite bottomed out at the end of the melt season, yet, but already 2012 has set new records for smallest Arctic sea ice extent and volume, smashing through the numbers from 2007. Records are often attention-grabbing and "exciting," in a way, but while Usain Boltís incredible shrinking 100-meter dash time may be uplifting, shrinking sea ice is not.

Every time a new sea ice extent record is broken, the same question comes up: how long until itís gone? That is, how long will it be before the Arctic Ocean is functionally ice-free in the summer, legitimately opening the once-fabled Northwest Passage?

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