"While we've long known that as the planet warms up, changes would be seen first and be most pronounced in the Arctic, few of us were prepared for how rapidly the changes would actually occur."
Arctic sea ice has long been regarded as a sensitive indicator of changes in the climate.
Scientists who have been analysing the startling melt think it is part of a fundamental change.
"We are now in uncharted territory," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Center (NSIDC) in Colorado, US.
"The strong late season decline is indicative of how thin the ice cover is," said NSIDC scientist Walt Meier.
"Ice has to be quite thin to continue melting away as the sun goes down and Fall approaches."
Scientists say they are observing fundamental changes in sea ice cover. The Arctic used to be dominated by multiyear ice, or ice that survived through several years.
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