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An unusually lengthy period of warm weather in northern Russia, along with a flow of warmer waters from the Atlantic Ocean has meant that the Laptev Sea, Siberia's main nursery of sea ice in the Arctic has still to begin freezing. Ocean temperatures have recently been more than 5C above their average in the region, following a summer heatwave.

Scientists believe that this is further evidence of human-made climate change.  They predict that as the planet continues to warm, it's likely that the Arctic will have its first ice-free summer sometime between 2030 and 2050. 

The last 14 years have shown the lowest amounts of ice in the Laptev Sea since satellite records began in 1979, but the absence of sea ice this late in the year marks a new low that has never occurred before in the region.

Ice normally forms around the coast of the Laptev Sea early in the winter before drifting westwards.  The ice breaks up and melts again in the spring, by which time it has drifted to the Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard.  If the ice melts before it gets there, there will be fewer nutrients for plankton in the Fram Strait, which may then limit the plankton's ability to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide in the coming spring and summer.

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