Sea ice is sparse in Arctic waters off Alaska, and the implications for animals, upcoming winter weather and next year's ice pack are reported to be profound.
A lack of floating ice forced walruses to the shore of Alaska's Chukchi Sea earlier than any time on record. Perilous melt conditions forced biologists monitoring Alaska polar bears to cut short their spring field season. Other scientists sailing in the region marveled at the extraordinarily warm water temperatures. A ship, a Finnish icebreaker, made the earliest recorded vessel crossing of the once-impenetrable Northwest Passage, sailing from the Bering Strait to Greenland in July.