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JOHN YDSTIE, host:

It's not just hot in Phoenix. In the Arctic, this summer, the area covered by sea ice is expected to hit a record low. Measurements taken this month by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center showed the amount of sea ice about 30 percent below the long-term average.

The level of sea ice is an important factor in climate change. As ice vanishes and is replaced by open water, an important cooling mechanism also disappears. Bright, white ice reflects about 80 percent of the sunlight that reaches it, while the ocean absorbs 90 percent.

Last year, a study by U.S. researchers suggested the Arctic may have no ice in the summer by the year 2040.

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