The numbers are straightforward. In the past 50 years, air temperatures across the Arctic Ocean have climbed by as much as 5.4 degrees F�huge by climate standards. This has had an unsurprising effect on the ice. Ordinarily, the ice sheet expands and shrinks with the changing seasons, dwindling to its smallest size in late September. Even then, however, it used to measure about 2.7 million sq. mi., roughly the size of the contiguous U.S. Not anymore. On the last day of summer this year, the ice measured just 2.05 million sq. mi.�a loss of area twice the size of Texas. That continues a four-year trend of dwindling ice, reducing the sheet to perhaps the smallest size ever recorded in the 100 years measurements have been taken.

TIME.com: The Artic Meltdown Speeds Up -- Page 1


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