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12/20/2012 - Record-setting year for sea ice melt

Sea ice melt continued at a rapid pace in 2012.

With 2012 coming to a close, climatologists say it was one of the warmest years on record.

According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, even though the La Nina weather pattern played less of a role in this year's climate than it has in years past, the 10-month stretch between January and October was the ninth-warmest since record keeping began in 1850.

As a result of this, the amount of Arctic sea ice has diminished significantly. Officials at WMO say that annual sea ice melt this past year was abundant. In fact, since September 2007, sea ice extends 18% less than it did at this time 15 years ago. Arctic sea ice stretches 3.3 million square kilometers, which is the roughly the equivalent of India in terms of size.

"Naturally occurring climate variability due to phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña impact on temperatures and precipitation on a seasonal to annual scale," said Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general. "But they do not alter the underlying long-term trend of rising temperatures due to climate change as a result of human activities."

Some climatologists speculate that violent storms - and in so doing, homeowners insurance claims - will become more frequent in the coming years as a result of climate change.

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