Scientists in the Arctic are warning that this summer's record-breaking melt is part of an accelerating trend with profound implications.
Norwegian researchers report that the sea ice is becoming significantly thinner and more vulnerable.
Last month, the annual thaw of the region's floating ice reached the lowest level since satellite monitoring began, more than 30 years ago.
It is thought the scale of the decline may even affect Europe's weather.
The melt is set to continue for at least another week - the peak is usually reached in mid-September - while temperatures here remain above freezing.
The planet has charted a slew of record temperatures in recent years, with 13 of the warmest years ever taking place in the past decade and a half.
Scientists say climate change is largely caused by human emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases, which hinder the planet's reflection of the sun's heat back into space.
The melting of Arctic sea ice has helped open up new shipping lanes but is also believed to hold serious consequences for the rest of the planet as the ice serves a vital function in keeping the planet cool.