The world's Arctic ice cap has shrunk to a new low, surpassing a record set only five years ago, and is expected to keep retreating for a few more weeks, according to US data.
The Arctic sea ice fell to 1.58 million square miles (4.10 million square kilometres) down 27,000 square miles from 2007, which was the previous low the lowest since satellites began measuring the ice in 1979, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre.
The ice is usually expected to dwindle until mid to late-September when the summer melting usually ends, according to the centre, leading experts to fear that the ice levels will get even lower in 2012.
Shrinking of the Arctic ices alarms scientists and environmentalists because the Arctic acts as the world's air conditioner, helping to moderate the globe's climate.
As parts of the Arctic melted, this year has been marked by record heat in much of the Northern Hemisphere, especially across the continental United States which has been ravaged by drought.
Most scientists blame global warming for the retreat of the Arctic ice and there is concern that the growing amounts of open water means the Arctic will not be as effective moderating the planet's climate.