Arctic Ocean ice melt slows a bit this summer

September 17, 2009 

WASHINGTON -- The summer melt of Arctic sea ice wasn't quite as bad this year as the past two years, but it still ranked as the third biggest melt on record.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center announced today that the Arctic sea ice reached its annual low last week. Ice extended just shy of 2 million square miles. That's 620,000 square miles less than the 30-year average.

But there was more ice this September than the record low set in 2007 -- about one-third of a million square miles more. Last year ranked No. 2.

Arctic sea ice is important because it helps moderate warmer temperatures elsewhere. Experts blame global warming for the increased melting of sea ice and fear that eventually no sea ice will survive the summer.

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