Arctic sea ice has now surpassed all previous records for the lowest absolute minimum summer extent. The "stunning record low" of 4.13 million square kilometers was recorded by satellite images on September 16, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The previous record, 5.32 million square kilometers, was measured on September 20-21, 2005.
The minimum for 2007 is smaller by 1.19 million square kilometers (460,000 square miles) than the previous low, roughly the size of Texas and California combined, or nearly five United Kingdoms. This year also saw the extended opening of the Northwest Passage through islands north of Canada for the first time.
The 11,000 Tuvaluans live on nine coral atolls totaling 10 square miles scattered over 500,000 square miles of ocean south of the equator and west of the International Dateline. Tuvalu is the smallest of all nations, except for the Vatican. Tuvalu has no industry, burns little petroleum, and creates less carbon pollution than a small town in America. This tiny place nevertheless is on the front line of climate change. The increasing intensity of tropical weather, the increase in ocean temperatures, and rising sea level -- all documented results of a warming atmosphere -- are making trouble for Tuvalu.
The islands are not going to go under immediately. Yet the effects accumulate, year by year. "Even if we are not completely flooded,"in 50 to 70 years we face increasingly strong storms and cyclones, changing weather patterns, damage to our coral reefs from higher ocean temperatures, and flooding of all our gardens." Not growing enough food and decreasing fish catch if reefs are damaged would mean "importing more food, more foreign exchange, and more health and diet problems, " he said.