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Source: NSIDC

The annual late-summer meltdown of the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska has commenced in earnest. While the satellite jockeys at the National Snow & Ice Data Center aren’t logging alarming visions of an all-time record slush cup, it’s getting close.

“Arctic sea ice extent for the month of July was the third lowest for that month in the satellite record, after 2007 and 2006,” the NSIDC ice wizards reported this week. “The average rate of melt in July 2009 was nearly identical to that of July 2007.”

As the climate savvy might remember, September of 2007 produced a polar ice cap with the smallest overall extent ever recorded during the 30-year age of satellites.

That year, an area the size of Argentina disappeared from the summer ice habitat, leaving the largest expanse of open water north of Alaska ever recorded.

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