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WWF: Continued Arctic Ice Melt Opens Arctic to New Threats

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Margaret Williams, managing director of Arctic programs, in response to today’s announcement of the 2013 Arctic sea ice minimum by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, showing that ice cover reached its sixth lowest level in recorded history:

“This year’s modest increase in Arctic sea ice extent from last year’s all-time-low is no cause for celebration. Sea ice coverage is still at one of the lowest points in history, part of a long, downward trend that began more than 30 years ago. And Arctic sea ice volume, a better indicator of overall ice trends, remains near record lows.

“The collapsing Arctic will continue to affect extreme weather in lower latitudes, creating greater risks for communities in the US and around the world. The loss of Arctic sea ice also adds a new level of risk to this already fragile ecosystem. As the Arctic melts, polar shipping increases, bringing with it more and more carbon pollution and black carbon that further accelerate the loss of Arctic sea ice. It’s a grave, self-propagating cycle that threatens the very future of the Arctic as we know it.

“As the forthcoming IPCC Assessment will reiterate, the science is clear and international leaders must act now to head off the oncoming melt and the challenges it will bring. Global climate emissions must be reduced and the surge in polar shipping must be accompanied by strong, international safety and environmental safeguards. Waiting until the next disastrous Arctic oil spill is simply not an option.”

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