The Arctic sea ice melt season is over.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that the arctic ice cap "plummeted to the lowest levels since satellite measurements began in 1979.": Arctic Sea Ice Shatters All Previous Record Lows. Diminished summer sea ice leads to opening of the fabled Northwest Passage . (press release, Oct 1).
Figure 1: This image compares the average sea ice extent for September 2007 to September 2005; the magenta line indicates the long-term median from 1979 to 2000. September 2007 sea ice extent was 4.28, compared to 5.57 in September 2005. This image is from the NSIDC Sea Ice Index.
Figure 2: The updated time series plot puts this summer’s sea ice extent in context with other years. 2007, shown in solid blue, is far below the previous record year of 2005, shown as a dashed line; September 2007 was 36% below where we would expect to be in an average year, shown in solid gray.
Figure 3: September ice extent from 1979 to 2007 shows an obvious decline. The September rate of sea ice decline since 1979 is now approximately 10 percent per decade, or 72,000 square kilometers (28,000 square miles) per year.
Arctic sea ice receded so much that the fabled Northwest Passage completely opened for the first time in human memory.... Explorers and other seafarers had long recognized that this passage, through the straits of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, represented a potential shortcut from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Roald Amundsen began the first successful navigation of the route starting in 1903. It took his group two-and-a-half years to leapfrog through narrow passages of open water, with their ship locked in the frozen ice through two cold, dark winters. More recently, icebreakers and ice-strengthened ships have on occasion traversed the normally ice-choked route. However, by the end of the 2007 melt season, a standard ocean-going vessel could have sailed smoothly through. On the other hand, the Northern Sea Route, a shortcut along the Eurasian coast that is often at least partially open, was completely blocked by a band of ice this year.
I'd recommend you buy property in Churchill, Manitoba (on Hudson's Bay and with rail access to the rest of North America), but Pat Broe has beaten you to it: Over the top (of the world) (Ben Muse, October 10, 2005). The Port of Churchill (from Wikipedia):