For hundreds of years, sailors searched in vain for the fabled Northwest Passage that would lead to the riches of China and India. Every time they would get just so far, and be faced with an impenetrable barrier of ice. This is no longer the case.
The McClure strait on the Canadian coast has opened due to the shrinkage in the Arctic ice cap that many say is due to global warming. It was spotted via satellite in August and is likely to stay open for several more weeks.
Arctic ice coverage is now at a record low, says the European Space Agency. Some forecasts say it could entirely disappear by 2040 if it continues to shrink at its current rate.
However, there is one more worrying statistic. Since records began 30 years ago, retreat has been in the order of 100,000 square kilometres a year. It appears that in the last 12 months, a million square kilometres of ice have disappeared.