North Pole can be circumnavigated for the first time

Scientists have warned that the Arctic icecap is entering a "death spiral" as open water is seen stretching all the way round the Arctic for the first time in at least 125,000 years, the Independent on Sunday reported.

Melting ice last week opened up both the northwest and northeast passages, the report said, making it possible for the first time in human history to circumnavigate the North Pole.

Shipping companies are already getting ready to exploit the new routes, it said, adding that if the ice continues to melt at present rates it will soon be possible to sail right across the North Pole. Many scientists now predict that the Arctic ocean will be ice-free in summer by 2030.

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