The decline in sea ice seen in the Arctic in recent decades has been linked by scientists to the spread of a deadly virus in marine mammals.
Researchers found that Phocine distemper virus (PDV) had spread from animals in the North Atlantic to populations in the North Pacific.
The scientists say the spread of pathogens could become more common as ice declines further.
The 15-year study tracked seals, sea lions and otters via satellite.
The loss of sea ice in the Arctic has been one of the most visible signs of climate change on the planet over the past four decades. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the ice has been retreating by around 12% per decade between 1979 and 2018.
"These sea ice changes in September are likely unprecedented for at least 1,000 years. Arctic sea ice has thinned, concurrent with a transition to younger ice. Between 1979 and 2018, the real proportion of multi-year ice that is at least five years old has declined by approximately 90%," the IPCC said in their report on the oceans and the cryosphere published in September.
Read More At The BBC
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