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Arctic sea ice

Declining Sea Ice

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy steams through “pancake” sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in October 2013. WHOI physical oceanographer Bob Pickart led the cruise to complete a ten-year study of how Pacific Ocean water flows through the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas into the Arctic Ocean. Over the past decade, increasing easterly winds in the summer have pushed warm Pacific water into deeper parts of the Arctic Ocean, potentially contributing to declines in Arctic sea ice. The Arctic sea ice extent for October 2017 averaged 2.60 million square miles—the fifth lowest since satellites began recording in 1979 and 633,000 square miles less than the 1981-2010 average. (Photo by Carolina Nobre, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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