Ice chunks float in the Arctic Ocean as the sun sets near Barrow, Alaska, Sept. 13, 2006. (Beth Ipsen/Arctic Sounder/AP Photo)
The reports from the world's scientists depict the Arctic sea ice cap now shrunk to its smallest size in history — the great melting uncovering vast stretches of the Arctic Ocean and opening up a northwest shipping lane mariners have been dreaming about since Christopher Columbus discovered America.
Watch a video of Bill Blakemore's tour of the ice wonders of Greenland here.
The melting has also left the fabled Northwest Passage — providing a whole new way for ships to travel between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans — fully open for the first time.
As the Northwest Passage melts open, an entire stretch of the western coast of Greenland becomes strategically much more important as the eastern entrance to the passage from Europe and the eastern United States.