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The Kapitan Khlebnikov ice breaker in the Chukchi Sea in the Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve, Chukotka, Russia on July 13, 2019. Shrinking levels of ice are expected to foster increased access to navigation in the Arctic Ocean. Yuri Smityuk / TASS via Getty Images

By Michaela Cavanagh (with AFP)

The Russian government has unveiled a plan to adapt the country's economy and population to climate change.

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Methane gas bubbles are seen trapped in the ice of a frozen thermokarst lake, which has an active methane seep. Kevin Hand, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

An international team of scientists says a new way of extracting methane gas trapped in permafrost has the potential to harvest more gas while burning fewer fossil fuels in the extraction process, as Newsweek reported.

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In this view from an airplane rivers of meltwater carve into the Greenland ice sheet near Sermeq Avangnardleq glacier on Aug. 4 near Ilulissat, Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The rate that Greenland's ice sheet is melting surpassed scientists' expectations and has raised concerns that their worst-case scenario predictions are coming true, Business Insider reported.

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The melting of Greenland alone, pictured above, has risen sea levels by about 0.7 millimeters a year. MB Photography / Moment / Getty Images

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 14th annual Arctic Report Card Tuesday, and the results are grim.

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Tabular icebergs float near the coast of West Antarctica as seen from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane on Oct. 28, 2016. Mario Tama / Getty Images

For the first time, scientists have proven that the thinning ice shelves floating around Antarctica are driving ice loss from the interior of the continent as well, according to new research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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A video of a polar bear wandering around the Russian Arctic spray-painted with large numbers and letters has baffled and worried wildlife experts.

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Aerial view of sea ice off western Alaska coast. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

A lethal virus that killed tens of thousands of harbor seals in the northern Atlantic in 2002 suddenly spread to sea lions, seals and otters in the northern Pacific Ocean two years later, confusing scientists, as NBC News reported.

How could the pathogen that causes a measles-like disease in marine mammals that had only been found on the Atlantic coasts suddenly have spread to the Pacific?

"We didn't understand how a virus from the Atlantic ended up in these sea otters. It's not a species that ranges widely," said Tracey Goldstein, a scientist at the University of California Davis who investigates how pathogens move through marine ecosystems, as National Geographic reported.

Goldstein and her colleagues looked at 15 years of data and realized that the spike in the virus was commensurate with Arctic sea ice loss. The data, published in a new study in the journal Scientific Reports, finds that the loss of Arctic sea ice allowed otters and other mammals to move west and spread the virus. The study shows that global heating is opening new avenues for diseases to spread, as National Geographic reported.

"The loss of sea ice is leading marine wildlife to seek and forage in new habitats and removing that physical barrier, allowing for new pathways for them to move," said Goldstein in a press release. "As animals move and come in contact with other species, they carry opportunities to introduce and transmit new infectious disease, with potentially devastating impacts."

The rapid loss of sea ice is creating a fertile breeding ground for viruses as animals travel to areas they have never been before. The phenomenon was first observed 17 years ago.

"It was a perfect storm in 2002," said Goldstein, as NBC News reported. "It was the lowest ice year on record at the time, and at the same time, in August and September, there was a really large outbreak."

To study the outbreak, the researchers took blood and mucous samples from seals, sea lions and otters from arctic and subarctic areas, from southeast Alaska to Russia. The swab samples allowed the scientists to determine which populations had been infected with the Phocine distemper virus, or PDV, and which specific strain they had been exposed to, as NBC News reported.

PDV is a common canine virus that vets vaccinate for. It spreads easily when an animal comes into direct contact with an infected animal. The virus manifests in seals much like the canine version does in dogs — goop discharged from the eyes and nose and a fever. With marine mammals, it also leads to erratic swimming, according to National Geographic.

"The virus has been shown to spread pretty easily between marine mammals," said Shawn Johnson, the vice president of veterinary medicine at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California to National Geographic. Since so many marine mammals migrate north, "the Arctic could be a perfect melting pot for transmission of the disease," Johnson said.

Not only is the changing landscape of the Arctic allowing animals to travel further, animals that need to travel farther for food will experience extra stress and exhaustion, which will weaken their immune systems and leave them susceptible to disease, Goldstein told National Geographic.

The study adds to a growing body of research signaling trouble for marine mammals, including an increase in marine heat waves that deplete their food supply and an increase in toxic algal blooms that can infect fish with a toxin that causes brain damage in marine mammals, as NBC News reported.

"When we see these changes happening in animals, we can't ignore them, because the impacts on people and the planet are not far behind," said Elizabeth VanWormer, the study's lead author, as NBC News reported. "This shows how interconnected these things are — the health of people, animals and the planet."

The Apusiaajik Glacier, as seen from Kulusuk village in East Greenland. Like most glaciers in Greenland, it's retreating rapidly, changing the local landscape year by year. Photo credit: Karin Kirk

By Karin Kirk

Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.

During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.

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NOAA

Most of the U.S. will likely see higher than normal temperatures this autumn, according to a three-month forecast projected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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Sea ice in Lancaster Sound, where researchers found surprisingly high concentrations of microplastics. Franco Banfi / WaterFrame / Getty Images

Two groups of researchers have found microplastics in Arctic ice and snow, Reuters reported Wednesday.

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Lightning strikes within 300 miles of the North Pole on Aug. 10. NWS Fairbanks

Forty-eight lightning strikes were detected within 300 miles of the North Pole on Saturday, The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang reported Wednesday. The event was so unusual that the National Weather Service (NWS) published a statement.

"This is one of the furthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory," NWS Fairbanks, Alaska said.

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