In an annual report, researchers at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other experts found that autumn air temperatures are at a record 5º Celsius above normal in the Arctic. This is due, they wrote, to a major decline in sea-ice levels, allowing more solar heating of the ocean.
The report found that warming of the air and the ocean affects land and marine life and also reduces the amount of winter sea ice that lasts into the following summer. The populations of wild reindeer and caribou herds also appear to be in decline.
Most experts blame climate change on greenhouse gases released by human activities.
According to researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the 2008 season strongly reinforces a 30-year downward trend in Arctic ice extent. The extent is 34% below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000, but 9% above the record low set in 2007.
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