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SOURCE: Seattle Times

DATE: May 3, 2018

SNIP: In the middle of February, one-third of the ice covering the Bering Sea off Alaska’s West Coast vanished within a week when an enormous pulse of heat swept over the Arctic. Scientists were stunned.

This rapid meltdown precipitated a record-shattering decline in Bering Sea ice through the winter and into spring, which has threatened the very way of life in Alaska’s coastal villages — reliant on the ice cover for navigation and hunting.

February and March ice levels were as low as far back as scientists can reconstruct, dating back more than 160 years.

Now, the ice is almost entirely gone — just 10 percent of normal levels as of the end of April.

We’ve fallen off a cliff: very little sea ice remains in the Bering Sea,” tweeted Rick Thoman, an Alaska-based climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on April 29.

The ice extent over the Chukchi Sea, just north of the Bering Sea abutting Alaska’s northwest coast, is also abnormally depleted. It recently began its melt season earlier than ever before measured.