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Ice melt means greener Arctic is the new normal

WASHINGTON -- Below-average snow cover, melting sea ice and declines in the population of reindeers and caribou are the new normal in the modern-day Arctic, said a scientific report out Thursday.

While this year was not as extreme as 2012, the trend toward a warming planet means these changes are likely here to stay, said the Arctic Report Card 2013, issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The peer-reviewed report, which has come out annually since 2006, was compiled by 147 authors from 14 countries.

“The Arctic is warming rapidly, becoming greener and experiencing a variety of changes, affecting people, the physical environment, and marine and land ecosystems,” said David Kennedy, NOAA's deputy under secretary for operations.

“The Arctic caught a bit of a break in 2013 from the recent string of record-breaking warmth and ice melt of the last decade,” he told reporters at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco.

“But the relatively cool year in some parts of the Arctic does little to offset the long-term trend of the last 30 years.”

Fairbanks, Alaska, which lies just below the Arctic Circle, saw a record 36 days of warmth at 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) or higher.

The amount of sea ice in September was the sixth lowest since observations began in 1979, continuing the trend of the past seven years.

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