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As Arctic Sea Ice Reaches 2009 Minimum, Pressure Builds On Senate To Pass Climate Bill This Year

2009 Ice Melt Continues Rapid Decline Observed over Last Three Decades

WASHINGTON, DC, September 17, 2009 – Ice coverage over the Arctic sea has likely reached its lowest level for 2009 – the third lowest amount of coverage on record – based on data collected by the National Snow and Ice Data Center

This year’s summer melt continues a trend of rapid sea ice decline over the past 30 years.  The average sea ice extent for August 2009 was 2.42 million square miles – about 540,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average. That decline is larger than the states of Texas, California, Florida and Indiana combined.

World Wildlife Fund issued the following statement from Keya Chatterjee, acting director of WWF’s climate change program:

“The Arctic is sounding an alarm for our future.  In every region of the US, the impacts of climate change are transforming landscapes, imperiling agriculture and other industries, and threatening our economy.  As the Arctic melts, Western forests burn, Midwestern communities flood, and coastal areas brace for stronger storms. 

“Climate change is a crisis that cannot be put off until next year.  It must be addressed now. The costs of inaction are too high. It is critical that the Senate pass a climate bill this year which would greatly increase the likelihood of world governments reaching a global climate agreement this December in Copenhagen. 

“The Earth is not waiting for a more favorable political environment.  Neither should the Senate Leadership.”

Keya Chatterjee and other climate experts are available for interviews to discuss the significance of the 2009 Arctic summer sea ice melt. 

For additional information on 2009 Arctic sea ice melt, please visit

Earlier this month, WWF issued a report examining the implications of a warming Arctic on the rest of the planet: