Monday, September 1, 2008

The North Pole is Now an Island

The North Pole has become an island for the first time in human history. Startling satellite pictures taken three days ago show that melting ice has opened up the fabled North-West and North-East Passages - making it possible to sail around the Arctic ice cap. This has been eagerly awaited by shipping companies (read: profits) that will cut thousands of miles off their routes. It sounds to me these folks are not concerned about their children's future, but hey, everyone has to make a buck, right?

Mark Serreze, a sea ice specialist, described the images as an 'historic event' - but warned they added to fears that the Arctic icecap has entered a 'death spiral'.

The pictures, produced by Nasa, mark the first time in at least 125,000 years that the two shortcuts linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have been ice-free at the same time.

In 2005, the North-East Passage around Russia opened, while the western one, across the top of Canada, remained closed, and last year the position was reversed.

But the satellite data shows that the North-West passage opened last weekend and the remaining tongue of ice blocking the North-Eastern one dissolved a few days later.

Professor Serreze, of the U.S. government-funded National Snow and Ice Data Center, told a Sunday newspaper: 'The passages are open. It is an historic event. 'We are going to see this more and more as the years go by.' Read the rest of the cataclysmic story here.

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