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Arctic ice melt Canada's top weather concern in 2007

An undated NASA handout showing a sunset over the Arctic. Canada's environment ministry said Thursday that the "shocking" record loss of Arctic sea ice was Canada's top weather event in 2007.

The "shocking" record loss of Arctic sea ice was Canada's top weather event in 2007, Canada's environment ministry said Thursday. Each year for the past 12, Environment Canada has published a list of the top 10 climate or weather phenomena to impact Canada that year.

For 2007, "the dramatic disappearance of Arctic sea ice -- reported in September -- was so shocking that it quickly became our number one weather story," the ministry said in a statement.

Satellite images in September revealed that Arctic ice had shrunk to about four million square kilometers (2.4 million square miles), a 23 percent decrease from the previous record low of 5.3 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) in 2005, it said.

The area of ice that melted roughly corresponds to the size of the Canadian province of Ontario or the country of South Africa.

"Canadians might remember 2007 as the year that climate change began biting deep and hard on the home front," the ministry said.

The Northwest Passage -- an arctic maritime route that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans -- was navigable for almost five weeks into August and September, an exceptional turn of events.

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