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The Arctic: On Thin Ice

The changes occurring in the Arctic will have global implications—and range countries will need to create climate-smart policies

The Fast Lane  

With sea ice disappearing faster and for longer periods of time, new routes for trade and tourism are opening up. But as ships begin to use these channels, they could disrupt whale migration patterns, disturb species that breed and feed on sea ice, and create new potential for oil spills in harsh and often uncharted ocean territory.

Wwf arctic shipping lanes magazine summer2017 v3

*Record minimum sea ice extent (September 2012) | °Median minimum sea ice extent (September 1981-2010)

Low Floes  

1985

2000

2015

Each year around September, Arctic sea ice recedes to its minimum extent. In September 2016, sea ice reached a near-record low, exceeded only by the September 2012 measurement, which was the lowest since record keeping began in 1979. Overall, September median sea ice coverage has dwindled significantly in the last 30 years, feeding a cycle of increased retention of solar energy and speeding climate change.

Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center; Natural Earth

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World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

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