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Polar ice viewed from aboard the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel, “KV Svalbard”, during Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonís visit to the Polar ice rim to witness firsthand the impact of climate change on icebergs and glaciers.  
United Nations Photo

As Arctic tundra warms, shrubs become treesScientists became aware of the flourishing plant life when they were informed by indigenous nomads said they were losing sight of reindeer in the trees.
The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago… had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands. Havelock Ellis, The Dance of Life, 1923

2 years ago // 7 notes

An enhanced photo of the Arctic ice approaching its record low extent on 9th September.  You can clearly see how it is now possible to sail around the ice.
With such a dramatic decrease in ice extent and thickness, the fabled northeast and northwest passages are becoming increasingly reliable as routes for marine naviagation.  These routes are likely to offer commercial shippers an alternative way of sailing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, rather than sailing via the toll-expensive Suez Canal.
During August 2011, the Arctic sea ice continued its rapid melt. By  mid-August both of the famous passages were  ice free. This is only the second time in recorded history that this has happened, with the first occurrence in 2010.
Last month, the 74,000-tonne  STI Heritage tanker passed through the North-east Passage with the  assistance of ice breakers in just eight days on its way from Houston,  Texas, to Thailand.
Sea ice covered 4.33 million square kilometers (1.67 million square  miles), US National Snow and Ice Data Center reported. The 2011 low is  2.38 million square kilometers (919,000 square miles) below the average  minimum extent measured between 1979 and 2000.
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Photograph: AMSR-E/Aqua/NASA