The shrinkage of Arctic ice has freed "iced" water to allow ships to use the Northwest passage and cut trips times between North America, Russia, and Asia. Arctic ice has melted to the lowest level since the late 1970s when satellite photos of the top of the world were taken. It is believed that global warming due to anthropogenic (man-made) emissions of carbon dioxide is the cause of the shrinkage.
It is believed that vast resources of oil and other fossil fuels exist underneath the Arctic, and nations like Canada, The United States, and Russia are scrambling to be the first to make the discovery and claims. A Russian submarine has already planted a flag underneath the North Pole. Ironically, the discovery and use of more carbon-dioxide-releasing fossil fuels will theoretically only contribute more to global warming and ice-melt.
The picture above shows how much the Arctic has shrunk, enough to allow ships to pass along its fringes during the summer season. Some believe that the whole of the Arctic will be free of ice in fifty years' time.
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