ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A new report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado says the Arctic sea ice cap was 22 percent below average this year.
The report comes just after the U.S. Geological Survey warned that tens of thousands of walruses that usually rest on the ice are instead congregating on the shores of the Chukchi Sea.
Scientists are concerned about stampedes, and say that the walruses will have to swim farther to find food because the ice has receded so far.
Researchers expect the melting to get worse.
“I think within a few years, maybe 10 years, we'll begin to see the Arctic ice shrink to the point where, say, the North Pole is actually in open ocean,” said the data center’s Ted Scambos. “We'll see a lot more erosion of the coastline along Alaska and Siberia.”
The center says even though there were slight increases in sea ice from 2007 through 2009, the melting this summer shows the long-term trend is for a shrinking polar ice cap.
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