Arctic sea ice melt comes close, but misses record

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Crucial Arctic sea ice this summer shrank to its second lowest level on record, scientists said Tuesday.

Sea ice hit its low on Friday, covering 1.74 million square miles of the Arctic, marking a low point for this summer. That's according to NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. Last summer it covered only 1.59 million square miles, the lowest since record-keeping began in 1979.

Arctic sea ice, which expands in winter and retreatsin summer, is crucial to worldwide weather patterns and helps reflect heat. Scientists predict summer ice could disappear altogether within five to 10 years.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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