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Watch the Arctic’s oldest sea ice shrink

A warming climate is edging out the Arctic’s stores of old sea ice, which act as a sort of “insurance policy” in keeping the region cold. The presiding narrative about ice melt in the Arctic largely focuses on seasonal ice, which is built up and lost in shorter intervals, The Atlantic’s CityLab reports. But a new data visualization accompanying a NASA release today shows that in 1984, old ice—which is supposed to withstand many cycles of warming and cooling—made up 1.9 million square kilometers of sea ice cover, compared with just 109,998 square kilometers as of this September. If the trend continues and an ice-free Arctic becomes reality, it could amplify global warming because the ocean would absorb more sunlight. And it’s partially your fault—a flight from New York City to London destroys 1 square meter of sea ice.

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