"The decline of the Arctic's sea ice cover is one of the most visible manifestations of global climate change. During the past few decades, the rapidly warming Arctic region has seen a steepening decline in its ice cover, particularly during the summer months, to the point where the famed Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route were both open for navigation at the end of the 2010 summer melt season —possibly heralding a new age of human activities, including shipping and oil drilling, in the Far North.
Although it is doing so at a lesser rate, wintertime sea ice extent is also declining, and this year has been no exception. Thanks in part to weather patterns that have kept much of the Arctic region unusually warm, last month, sea ice extent reached the lowest level on record for the month of February, a record shared with February 2005. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., February ice extent was low in both the Atlantic and Pacific portions of the Arctic — with the most pronounced departures from average in the Labrador Sea and Gulf of Saint Lawrence."