From: John Vidal, guardian.co.uk
Published September 18, 2008 10:59 AM

Arctic sea ice at second lowest extent ever recorded

Arctic sea ice has reached the second lowest extent ever recorded, according to the US national snow and ice centre, and a new map shows how far the 2008 melt has receded compared to the historical average.

The map [featured in the full article], produced by Collins, shows that the area of ice that is at least five years old has fallen by more than half since 1985. It comes as the Northwest Passage, above north America, and the Northeast Passage, over the top of Russia, are both free of ice for the first time.

"While slightly above the record-low minimum set last year, this season further reinforces the strong negative trend in summer sea ice extent observed during the past 30 years. Before last year, the previous record low for September was set in 2005", said a spokesman for the Snow and Ice center based at the University of Colorado.

A spokesman for WWF International said: "This means two years in a row of record lows. The trend of melting Arctic sea ice is alarming for the rest of the world. The Arctic is a key factor in stabilising the global climate so this is a global problem that demands an immediate and global response."

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