“Hundreds of Portuguese firefighters struggled on Wednesday to contain wildfires which erupted far earlier in the season than usual because of unexpectedly hot and windy weather.
“Ten fires were burning across the country, most in the north, several months before the late spring season when fire crews are normally in place. Meteorologists said global warming had made it difficult to predict where blazes would erupt.
““We are having significant fire outbreaks in areas where we didn’t know the risk was high,” Miguel Miranda, president of the Portuguese Institute of Meteorology (IPMA), told Portuguese radio station TSF. “We are in unexplored territory, we have never been through this.””
“As many as ten Iraqi provinces in central and southern Iraq could announce a state of emergency after more than three days of torrential rains and unprecedented floods, a government official said. Mahdi Rashid, the director of the Public Authority for Dams and Reservoirs at the Ministry of Water Resources, said the rising water levels could force the ministry to announce a state of emergency in ten Iraqi cities.”
“Heavy flooding continued in Iran on Tuesday March, 26, 2019 as 30 provinces geared up for days of a sudden disaster… At least 30 of Iran’s 31 provinces witnessed flood conditions on Monday as reports indicate at least 120 dead in the city of Shiraz alone…
“Floods that began in northern parts of Iran earlier in the month are quickly propagating to other areas in Iran. At least 30 provinces have been affected by the floods. The worst-hit provinces include those on the shores of Caspian Sea, the skirts of the Zagros mountain range, central and southern Iran.”
“Afghanistan’s summer harvest will be one of the most critical in years, especially of wheat, its biggest cereal crop, as the country recovers from floods and the worst drought in decades, government and aid organization officials say…
“Floods in March complicated the recovery. Heavy rains killed at least 63 people and destroyed or damaged more than 12,000 homes, affecting 119,600 people, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs “
“”Our results suggest that extreme dry and wet events will increasingly co-occur, such as the switch from extreme drought to severe flooding we saw in California in the recent past,” says lead author Gavin D. Madakumbura. “At least in terms of disaster mitigation and water security, there would be significant benefits to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C to dampen the intensification of event-to-event variability.””
“The southern hemisphere has been struck by some unusual storms recently… Southeast Africa is not often struck by big cyclones and Idai was particularly bad because it moved slowly, allowing huge amounts of rain to fall for a long time over a relatively small area, causing disastrous flooding in low-lying areas.
“The Indian Ocean has already experienced seven cyclones this year, compared with an average of three.”
“The past month is likely to be one of the warmest March months on record in New Zealand, following the country’s third warmest summer on record. It comes after 2018 was the equal-second warmest year recorded…
“Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said there was a chance of another atmospheric river – similar to the one that deluged the West Coast this week – coming down from the tropics during April.”
“The famed island [Easter Island] is starting to feel the impact of climate change, from the cooler waters caused by fluctuating global temperatures to a record drought, which has drained the island’s wetlands and put its freshwater reserves at risk…
“Fiercer sea swells are eroding parts of the shore and the island is getting less rainfall, making 2017 the driest year on record. Last year was only slightly better.”
“The question is not if, but when, and how bad. Manitobans anxious about spring flooding learned a little more Wednesday. The province’s infrastructure minister, Ron Schuler shared the latest information from the Hydrologic Forecast Centre in Winnipeg. He said the province is mobilizing to deal with a flood “at or above 2009 levels,” with peak levels expected on the Red River at Emerson, Man. between April 12-23.”
“Record flooding in the Midwest is now threatening the safety of more than a million private water wells.
“The National Ground Water Association estimates that people living in more than 300 counties across 10 states have their groundwater threatened from bacterial and industrial contamination carried by flood waters.”
“This spring’s floods will shape this summer’s dead zone. The area of low oxygen is an annual occurrence driven in large part by nutrient-laden runoff that washes down the Mississippi River and its many tributaries, fueling algae blooms when it reaches the Gulf.
“The dead zone in 2017 was the largest that’s ever been recorded at nearly 9,000 square miles, and while it’s much too early to say exactly how big this summer’s dead zone will be, the flooding we’ve seen so far doesn’t bode well. “
“Brevard [Florida] residents were surprised when a powerful squall line brought an unwelcome hazard to their morning commute: hail. Wendesday’s storms formed ahead of an incoming cold front, packing heavy rain, lightning and gusty winds in addition to hail. Many residents and visitors took to Twitter to share images of falling hail, which was dime to golf ball-size in some places, and report damage.”
“When the Arctic warmed after the ice age 10,000 years ago, it created perfect conditions for drought.
“According to new research led by a University of Wyoming scientist, similar changes could be in store today because a warming Arctic weakens the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles. This, in turn, results in less precipitation, weaker cyclones and weaker mid-latitude westerly wind flow—a recipe for prolonged drought.”
“Large swaths of Alaska have seen record or near-record warmth this March said Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy. And the trend isn’t quitting.
“Well above-average temperatures are expected to continue this week. Daily temperature records have broken around the state, and toppled all-time March records in the greater Arctic region. Last week, Alaska saw its earliest ever 70-degree Fahrenheit temperature.
“This exceptional warmth has been stoked by a mix of weather events and a rapidly warming climate.
“The magnitude and persistence of the warmth is particularly striking to me this winter in parts of Alaska,” Zack Labe, a climate scientist and Ph.D. candidate at the University of California at Irvine, said over email.”
“A Canadian mountaineer has revealed why he made the dangerous climb down the world’s second largest ice sheet to collect data on the impact of global warming. Will Gadd, 52, from Canmore, Alberta, assisted American Professor Jason Gulley in exploring the Greenland ice sheet after noticing the ‘radical changes’ in glaciers.
“The record-breaking ice climber said: ‘In our lifetime we’re seeing radical changes and it’s not something I can ignore.”
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now says that flood waters have reached eight Superfund sites in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska, according to Bloomberg.
“Because flood water levels remain high, it isn’t possible for EPA personnel to reach the sites and test these sites, which are in need of major environmental cleanup due to the presence of hazardous waste and toxic chemicals such as arsenic and cyanide, to name a few poisonous chemicals…”
“In the open air and next to the highway live near 200 families in the San Vicente de Vinces enclosure, province of Los Ríos, after the flood of the Pocas river [Ecuador]. Between pain and anguish, they sleep in improvised tents and under plastic with the few things they could recover. For now, they only harbor the hope that the heavy rains will diminish.
“According to a report presented by the Vice President of the Republic Otto Sonnenholzner, until Monday 25 March there are 20 deaths…”
“If a super typhoon hits the Tokyo metropolitan area and causes floods that coincide with high tide, it would be necessary to evacuate 2.55 million of the capital’s residents and send many to places other than their local evacuation center, an estimate has shown.”
“Mozambique said on Wednesday five cases of cholera had been confirmed around the badly damaged port city of Beira after a powerful cyclone killed more than 700 people across a swathe of southern Africa.
“Cyclone Idai smashed into Mozambique around midnight on March 14 before tearing through neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and wrecking an area of 3,000 sq km (1,200 sq miles).”
“Germany’s meteorological agency DWD says 2018 was the warmest in the country since records began. The agency said Tuesday that the annual average temperature in Germany was 10.5 degrees Celsius (50.9 Fahrenheit) last year — higher than at any time since [records began in] 1881.
“The number of days when the mercury rose above 25 C and 30 C also beat previous records, including from the intense but shorter-lived summer of 2003.”
“Many insect pollinator species are disappearing from areas of Great Britain, a new study has found.
“The research, led by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, measured the presence of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species across the country, from 1980 to 2013. It showed one third of species experienced declines in terms of areas in which they were found…”
“At least 19 people have been killed and about 100 more injured in flash floods in southern Iran.
“Dramatic footage showed crumpled cars piled up deep in mud and water and people clinging to lamp posts after floods swept through the city of Shiraz, where most of the deaths occurred on Monday.
“Pirhossein Kolivand, head of Iran’s emergency medical services, said four children were among those who died, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reports.
“High water is said to have damaged thousands of houses in the city and other towns, and 26 out of 31 regions are on high alert for imminent flooding because of torrential rain forecast for the coming days.
“The spread of flooding to the south comes after days of floods in the north which affected more than 56,000 people living in 270 villages and small towns in the regions of Golestan and Mazandaran on the Caspian Sea.”
“As gale-force winds create huge dust storms in Victoria’s Central Gippsland [Australia], farmers say it is time to call the drought a natural disaster as the little remaining topsoil is blown away from paddocks.
“Winds of more than 100 kilometres per hour battered bare paddocks across Giffard and Seaspray yesterday, causing sandy topsoil to build up along fences and roads.”
“A state of emergency has been declared in Westland [NZ] as torrential rain brings flooding to the region, with the Waiho Bridge, south of Franz Josef Glacier, totally washed away.
“The heavy rain raised rivers to record levels, closed roads and prompted evacuation warnings in the area. Some parts of Westland face up to 800 millimetres of rain [31.5 inches] during the downpour. The town of Haast is experiencing a one-in-100-year flood…”
“The Sunday evening hail storms that left parts of Frisco, McKinney and Allen with a trail of broken windshields will likely be a $300-$400 million storm.
“Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the industry trade group, the Insurance Council of Texas, said a 4 square-mile area in Collin County sustained the the most serious damage and that early projections place the amount of insured losses at $300-400 million.”
“…Kevin Low, a hydrologist with the National Weather Services’ Missouri Basin River Forecast Center, said streams running into the Missouri are high. Two major rivers in South Dakota, the Big Sioux and the White River, are flooding. He said the snowpack was heavy, and it’s held on later than normal into the spring.
“What’s more, the soil across the upper Midwest is too wet to absorb much more water. And to top it all off, forecasters are predicting a better-than-average chance for major thunderstorms this spring.”
“Asian hornets are set to invade Britain as the country faces a sizzling three-month heatwave.
“Nests have been found in New Alresford and Brockenhurst in Hampshire’s New Forest tourist hotspot, leading to fears that families could be attacked.
“The hornets have already killed five people in France and hibernating queens will soon be waking up in the UK. Christine McClellan, of the Isle of Wight Beekeeping Association, told the Daily Star: “It is vital that we increase the urgent awareness to this impending disaster.””
“In 2018, record drought across Germany caused crop failures and left farmers struggling. Germany’s meteorological office says the droughts were not a once off and is setting up an early warning system to help farmers…
“The grain farmer hopes 2018 was an exception not soon to be repeated, otherwise he says the outlook for German agriculture is grim.”
“About 1.85 million people have now been affected by Cyclone Idai and its aftermath in Mozambique alone, U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said on Tuesday, as aid workers raced to fathom the scale of the disaster and determine what help is most urgently needed…
“At least 686 people have been killed by the storm and its aftermath across the three countries, a figure that could rise as relief workers prepare for what they say are inevitable outbreaks of diseases including malaria and cholera.”
“With March coming to an end, it has been 100 consecutive months where every month has been above normal.
“”Some months have seen temperatures in the area around Longyearbyen with as much as 12-14 degrees over normal,” says climate researcher Ketil Isaksen with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.
“Since 1961, the average temperature at Longyearbyen airport has increased with 5,6 degrees Celsius. For comparison, measurements at the meteorological institute in Oslo show an increase of 2 degrees for the same period.
“The old saying “the Arctic heats twice as much as the rest of the world” is not accurate anymore. Climate changes impact on the Arctic is worse, up to six times higher than global temperature increase.
“Located at 76° North, Longyearbyen is the world’s northernmost permanent settlement.”
“Spain’s Costa del Sol has recorded the driest winter on record ever according to the national state weather agency AEMET. A measly total of 11-litres per square metre fell during the months of December, January and February – which are traditionally the wettest months.
“The measurement was made at the Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport and is the lowest on record since records began in 1942.”
“Mashi said: “It is very clear that, our environment [Nigeria] is in serious challenge of extreme weather events this year as a result of climate change, which is seen as the single most prominent risk.
““As such, 2018 was found to be one of the four warmest years on record, and was the warmest year without an El Nino. While 2019 as an El Nino year, has already began with pockets of extreme events in form of severe storms currently ravaging Mozambique and parts of Australia.”
“Places like Ambala, Yamunanagar, Karnal, Rohtak, Panipat, Jind, Hisar, Sirsa in Haryana, while Moga, Patiala, Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Jalandhar [India] will record rains. From agricultural point of view, the sudden increase in wind speed due to thundershowers will damage major crops such as Wheat.
“Other crops such as Mustard and Potatoes that are presently under harvesting stage will face heavy loss.”
“Malaysians are having to battle dengue cases on the rise even as they face drying taps from the current heatwave.
“Dengue cases have shown a dramatic spike this year – up by about 150% from last year – and besides a change in the virus serotypes that is fuelling the increase, the weather pattern is of no help either.”
“The total area lost to wildfires in Riau [Indonesia] this year has increased to 2,719 hectares.
“The head coordinator of the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Edwar Sanger, said the wildfires were likely to keep spreading, as the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru was still detecting hot spots.”
“We’ve had the benefits of the marine heatwave [New Zealand] – the hot summer days and warm seas. Now comes the downside – torrential rain…
“Even on our traditionally wet West Coast you can’t get more than half a metre of rain in the space of 36 hours without some extra help. In this case, that’s coming from the superheated Tasman Sea and a pipeline of tropical moisture extending from Australia and tropical cyclone Veronica, and former tropical cyclone Trevor.”
“Thousands of poisonous toads are invading Palm Beach, Florida homes like an Old Testament plague this weekend…
“‘With the warmer winter and then we had a rain two to three weeks ago, a torrential rain, that caused them to go into a breeding cycle,’ Mark Holladay, a lead technician with the extermination company known as Toad Busters, told WPTV.”
“It’s already been a rough start to 2019 along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in places like Nebraska and Iowa, where lots of “bomb cyclone” snow and rain has led to record flooding, but the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that things are going to get worse and more widespread as spring continues.
“The extensive flooding we’ve seen in the past two weeks will continue through May and become more dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities.”
“North America’s apple producers are bracing for new losses, and scientists are probing possible causes. Apples are one of the continent’s most valuable fruit crops, worth some $4 billion last year in the United States alone.
“Growers are eager to understand whether rapid or sudden apple decline, as it is known, poses a serious new threat to the industry.”
“High temperatures are setting records in Southeast Alaska this week…
““We’ve hit just numerous record high temperatures for the day but also we’re breaking a lot of the monthly March records,” said Kimberly Vaughan, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Juneau.
““So it’s the warmest March temperature we’ve ever seen.””
“As the impacts of climate change march on, peak volumes of sea ice continue their downward spiral. According to NASA, this past year was no exception to the rule.
“This winter, the peak volume of Arctic sea ice receded enough to tie the seventh lowest level of all time [volume worse, I would imagine]… ‘While this year wasn’t a record low, the maximum extent still points to there being a sustained decline in winter sea ice,’ continued Webster. For the Arctic, steady melting has stretched beyond the seasonal ice ebb and flow of ice and into trends once considered static.”
“There were hundreds of corpses washed up on the side of the road; others bobbed past his stranded car, carried by the torrents of floodwater towards the sea. But what will forever haunt Graham Taylor were the screams and sounds of sobbing that echoed through the dark night from those clinging to life in the upper branches of nearby trees…
“He speculated the government’s early estimate of 1,000 dead would prove to be woefully short. “I’m guessing, but it is well into the thousands – four, five, six thousand”, he said.”
“Massive hailstones destroyed houses and cars in KwaZulu-Natal [South Africa]. The recent hailstorm which hit many parts of Newcastle on Thursday has caused destruction, with reports indicating Lennoxton and Fernwood are the areas worst hit, reports Newcastle Advertiser.
“Residents awoke to damaged cars and houses, caused by hailstones believed to be the size of golf balls and bigger, which broke through car windscreens and windows, causing extensive damage.”
“Barmer district in Rajasthan is evidence of alarming changes in ecological indicators across the Thar desert [India]. While total rainfall received in the region has registered an increase, its uneven distribution during monsoon season has affected crops putting farmers in distress…
“This strange phenomenon where the district has registered an increase in average rainfall over the years but also had to face drought almost every year in the last decade has posed a challenge in this largely rainfed agricultural region.”
“A teenager in Malaysia had a rude awakening on Wednesday morning (20 March), when she woke up to find a 3-metre-long python coiled around her neck, The Star has reported…
“It is not uncommon for snakes to leave their natural habitats during hot weather to look for cooler areas. In January this year, a heatwave in Australia also caused a spike in sightings of snakes in residential toilets.”
“Last year, 11 high-temperature records were broken, including the highest average mark for the month of May at 28.3 degrees. The earliest ever hot weather warning in a year was also issued that month.
“This winter was the hottest on record for Hong Kong… Between December and last month, there were only three “cold days” for Hong Kong, marking a winter with the least number of such periods since records began in 1884.”
“Heavy rain from Trevor is anticipated to sweep across more of the Northern Territory and into northeastern South Australia and southern Queensland Sunday and into Tuesday. Rainfall along this swath can total 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 300 mm (12 inches).
“In the desert locations such as Birdsville, these totals would mean that a nearly a year’s worth of rain can pour down in one to two days. With the soil unable to absorb that much rain, the rapid runoff can lead to major flooding.”
“Insurers have warned that climate change could make cover for ordinary people unaffordable after the world’s largest reinsurance firm blamed global warming for $24bn (£18bn) of losses in the Californian wildfires.
“Ernst Rauch, Munich Re’s chief climatologist, told the Guardian that the costs could soon be widely felt, with premium rises already under discussion with clients holding asset concentrations in vulnerable parts of the state.”
“Parts of Northern Australia are being evacuated as the region braces for two cyclones to make landfall in the coming days — one of which has the potential to be the region’s most powerful storm in years.
“Cyclone Trevor is expected to strengthen and hit the Northern Territory on Saturday as the equivalent of a category 3 or 4 Atlantic hurricane, bringing with it destructive winds up to 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour), heavy rain and storm surges.
“To Trevor’s west, Cyclone Veronica has strengthened to the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane since Wednesday. It is expected to peak in intensity off-shore, before making landfall Sunday as a weaker system.
“Authorities have declared a state of emergency in the Gulf of Carpentaria ahead of Trevor’s arrival. The Northern Territory is now undertaking the largest evacuation ahead of a cyclone in its history, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said at a Thursday press conference.”
“Mass burials are being planned as the death toll rises from the Sentani flash floods in Indonesia’s Papua Province [Indonesia].
“Disaster agency officials said the death toll had climbed again with 104 people now confirmed dead, 160 injured and 79 others still missing. With 40 victims who had not yet been identified, the Jayapura Regent decided that the victims would be buried en masse.”
“Expedition operators are concerned at the number of climbers’ bodies that are becoming exposed on Mount Everest as its glaciers melt. Nearly 300 mountaineers have died on the peak since the first ascent attempt and two-thirds of bodies are thought still to be buried in the snow and ice…
“”Because of global warming, the ice sheet and glaciers are fast melting and the dead bodies that remained buried all these years are now becoming exposed,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association.”
“According to the Groundwater Department, the state [of Kerala] in India is heading for a severe drought [after historic flooding last year], with the groundwater level in most parts of the state recording a sharp decline from 75 cm to 2 m.
“The water level in Palakkad, Kasargod, Kozhikode, Idukki and Alappuzha were the worst-hit.”
“Sporadic, below average rains and persistent drought since 2016 sees an estimated 1.7 million people in critical need of humanitarian assistance in Somaliland, a figure ballooning by hundreds of thousands in recent months.
“Communal water resources are drying up at an alarming rate…”
“Zambia and Zimbabwe reduced hydropower output from Kariba Dam, because a drought has reduced water levels.
“The amount of water allocated for power generation is being cut to 36 billion cubic meters from 38 billion cubic meters, while electricity supplies will be reduced to 890 megawatts from 1,476 megawatts, the Zambezi River Authority said in an emailed statement on Thursday. Water is currently five meters above the minimum-operating level, it said.”
“New satellite imagery is giving us a look at the scope of a massive flood, described as an “inland ocean” up to 30 miles wide in places, that has developed in Mozambique following the landfall of Tropical Cyclone Idai late last week. Hundreds of people have died as a result of the cyclone and its flooding across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and officials there fear the total death toll will top 1,000.”
“Emergency teams are running out of time to save thousands of people in Mozambique trapped since last week by rising floodwaters. Torrential rain is hampering efforts to reach survivors marooned in trees and on roofs.
“Aid agencies warned that their chances of survival without clean water or food were narrowing since cyclone Idai hit the southern African country’s coast a week ago.”
This doesn’t augur well for summer. Portugal very vulnerable to wildfires:
“With extended forecasts showing little or no chance of rain, it has been revealed that more than half of [Portugal] is currently in a state of drought. The Government has already requested water tankers prepare to supply worst affected areas with their most urgent water supplies. According to latest data, the Western Algarve is the hardest hit by the current lack of rainfall, and has been classified as being in a state of extreme drought.”
“The cows and horses would have come for the last blades of grass. Now their bones are scattered on the cracked earth, victims of drought that wiped Santiago’s weekend playground Lake Aculeo [Chile] from the map.
“Lake Aculeo’s demise is so sudden and complete it seems as if someone had pulled a giant plug and let all the water out.”
“Volcan Chimborazo, Ecuador: When the springs dried up the local indigenous leaders raised their eyes to the heavens. They knew what they would find. Up above, the glacier that capped Chimborazo volcano was receding.
“But something equally dramatic was happening further down the slopes of Ecuador’s highest mountain. And the consequences for the indigenous population living there are far-reaching.”
“A deadly insect that wiped out more than a quarter of the Central American country’s conifers between 2013 and 2017 is back. The southern pine beetle — or gorgojo, as it is known locally — appears in large numbers during droughts brought on by El Nino, a climatic phenomenon that occurs every few years and can be a threat to agriculture and even drinking water sources.”
“After years of drought-like conditions, parts of Southern California have seen some of the wettest days in years — and in some cases in decades — this winter.
“Following the record rainfall, much of Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert is now experiencing a super bloom of wildflowers, including poppies, primroses and lilies, which are now drawing tens of thousands of spectators from across the state.”
“March in Denver is known for big snow storms, rapidly changing weather and, usually, an early taste of spring-like warmth.
“But it’s usually not known for the persistent, bitter cold that’s enveloped the region all month long. With an average temperature of 29.7 degrees through Monday, Denver was running more than nine degrees below average for the month, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.”
“Historic river flooding persisted throughout the north-central United States following a ‘bomb cyclone’ that struck the region last week. The recent storms triggered massive snowmelt and dropped heavy rain that have both overwhelmed rivers and waterways…
“Also on Tuesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds extended the disaster proclamation to an additional five counties impacted by the recent flooding. The governor has issued proclamations for 41 of Iowa’s 99 counties.”
“All-time March record highs were smashed in parts of Alaska, western Canada and Washington State in an end-of-winter warm spell that sent temperatures soaring to heights never seen this time of year so far north.
“Tuesday’s high in Klawock, Alaska, about 200 miles south-southeast of Juneau, topped out at 70 degrees… it was the earliest in the year any Alaska location had reached 70 degrees by a whopping 12 days…”
“…much of Alaska, Europe, central Russia and the Far East had temperatures that were 7.2°F above average or higher. Additional areas with record warm February temperatures include parts of Alaska, Central America, the Barents Sea, the Southern Ocean off Australia’s southeastern coast, the Indian Ocean, the East China Sea as well as parts of northeastern Brazil.”
“Global ocean temperatures reached their second highest temperature on record in February at 60.6°F. As a result of warming on both land and at sea, NOAA said there is a persistent decline in the amount of sea ice.”
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