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Ice Melt Opens Historic Route

Five years ago, we warned that this might happen and now it has: the Northwest Passage--the direct shipping route from Europe to Asia--is now clear of ice, for the first time since records started being kept 30 years ago.

BBC News reports that "historically, the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has been ice-bound through the year." But global warming has changed that.

In LiveScience.com, Andrea Thompson writes that since "the opening of the fabled Northwest Passage and the recent announcement that Arctic Sea ice has reached a new record summer low are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to polar problems."

In another article in LiveScience, Thompson reports that there is trouble at the other end of the earth as well, since Antarctic snow is melting at an accelerating rate. Since the frozen ice of Antarctica contains 90% of the fresh water on earth, this melt means that sea levels will soon rise precipitously.

Of course, nearby countries are already arguing about who will control the Passage, with Canada , the US and the European Union all saying the territory belongs to them.

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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