8/16/2011 1:19:41 PM

Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low in July

Polar bear on melting sea ice

Polar bears rely on sea ice as a platform for hunting seals—they're unable to reach them in the open water. All parts of the Arctic experienced reduced sea-ice coverage this summer except East Greenland. Photo ©Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures.

Polar bears encountered more open water than usual this July, with less ice available as seal-hunting grounds. According to a new report by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Arctic sea ice coverage reached the lowest July extent since satellite-data records began, 21.6% below average.

The center also reported a greater loss of older, thicker sea ice, with a loss of 14% from March through July. The sea ice extent remained below normal everywhere in the Arctic except East Greenland.

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