Arctic sea ice melts by almost a half

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Scientists have detected a significant reduction in the thickness of the Arctic sea ice, which they say is related to global warming. Over the past 20 to 40 years the ice has lost up to 40 per cent of its depth right across the Arctic at 29 sites monitored by nuclear submarines.

Scientists have detected a significant reduction in the thickness of the Arctic sea ice, which they say is related to global warming. Over the past 20 to 40 years the ice has lost up to 40 per cent of its depth right across the Arctic at 29 sites monitored by nuclear submarines.

Andrew Rothrock, the scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle who led the investigations, will report in next month's Geophysical Research Letters that the average ice thickness has declined by 4.3 feet since 1958. "The decrease in sea ice occurs all across the Arctic Ocean and corresponds to previously reported evidence that the Arctic climate is warming," said the American Geophysical Union, which publishes the journal.

The scientists used radar data on sea ice draught - the depth between the ocean's surface and the bottom of the floating ice pack - gathered during the autumn cruises of three US submarines in 1993, 1996 and 1997. These were compared with measurements taken in 1958 and 1976.

Dr Rothrock said the reduction was "striking". Each of the 29 sites has shown a fall in ice thickness. In the Nansen Basin in the eastern Arctic, the thinning is more than 5.5 feet; in others it is nearer three feet. The scientists say it might result from an increase in the flow of heat from the ocean or from the heating of the atmosphere.

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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