You have to get up high to see how bad it is. Flying over the North Pole in September a few years back, en route from Washington to Beijing, there was open water as far as the eye could see. But such anecdotal evidence that the Arctic sea ice is retreating is nothing compared to the wealth of data gathered over the past 30 years by a fleet of polar-orbiting spacecraft, most of them developed by NASA. Those spacecraft show a dramatic shrinkage in the seasonal ice since 1979 (see map). Last ...

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