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Posted Fri Feb 26 2010: from New Scientist:
Arctic arch failure leads to sea-ice exodus
Every winter the Arctic ice cap is penned in by curved barriers of ice spanning the straits that lead out of the Arctic Ocean. Now it seems that some of these ice arches are failing to form. The resulting exodus of sea ice into the Atlantic and Pacific could affect ocean circulation and marine life.... During most years, large blocks of sea ice clump together in mid-January to build one or two arches across the strait. The arches usually persist for around six months, acting as dams to prevent the ice from floating away. Then in 2007, the warmest year on record in the Arctic, no arches formed and vast quantities of sea ice were lost. "Around 1 per cent of Arctic ice by area went down the Nares Strait that year; more than double the usual amount," says Kwok. The next year wasn't much better -- only one weak arch formed and broke down after two months. Last year provided a brief respite, but so far in 2010 there is no sign of any arches in the strait.
[Read more stories about: arctic meltdown, faster than expected]

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