There's now an area of open ocean bigger than Alaska, Texas, and California combined where Arctic ice used to be. Gulp.
New research out of the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that the current Arctic thaw is unprecedented. The center released an image of the Arctic ice cap compared to its median size since 1979. As PRI's The World's Marco Werman put it, the space between today's ice and the median "has been replaced by an area of open ocean bigger than Alaska, Texas, and California combined."
The World's Peter Thomson reported that the dramatic melt way up there could already be having its effects way down here:
Some scientists refer to the Arctic as "the world’s refrigerator," and as it warms up, that’s going to effect [sic] weather all around the world. In fact, there’s some evidence that changes in the Arctic could already be affecting weather today—this summer—including perhaps the big drought and that record heat here in the U.S. this summer.\n
As soon as next week, the ice cap is expected to have passed all previous records and will keep on shrinking into September.
Image via Image via National Snow and Ice Data Center