Arctic sea ice melt may break record this year

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is at its second lowest level since measurements began in 1979, the National Snow and Ice Data Centre has reported. The lowest level ever recorded was last September, but with three weeks of summer left, that record could be broken this year.

Sea ice has an important cooling effect, as it reflects solar radiation away from the earth. There is concern that a "tipping point" may soon be passed when the newly exposed ocean, absorbing more heat, accelerates melting and warming in other parts of the world. Senior scientist Mark Serreze at the data center told the Associated Press: "It’s tipping now. We’re seeing it happen now."

Within "five to less than 10 years," the Arctic could be free of sea ice in the summer, NASA scientist Jay Zwally told the Associated Press. "Climate warming is also coming larger and faster than the models are predicting and nobody’s really taken into account that change yet," he said.

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