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Arctic sea ice declined rapidly to unprecedented low extents in the summer of 2007, raising concern that the Arctic may be on the verge of a fundamental transition toward a seasonal ice cover.

Arctic sea ice extent typically attains a seasonal maximum in March and minimum in September. Over the course of the modern satellite record (1979 to present), sea ice extent has declined significantly in all months, with the decline being most pronounced in September. By mid-July 2007, it was clear that a new record low would be set during the summer of 2007.