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By Climatologist Cliff Harris

I received numerous phone calls and e-mails from concerned Press subscribers worried about the melting Arctic sea ice, which shrank to its second lowest level on record on Friday, September 12, 2008 at some 1.74 million square miles.

But, I should point out that the lowest level of sea ice ever measured in the Arctic regions since at least 1979, when such record-keeping began, was just last summer in 2007. In early September, 2007, the sea ice covered ‘only’ 1.59 million square miles.

This arctic sea ice, which actually floats on top of the ocean, every year expands in the winter months and retreats each summer season. The trend during the past decades of warming, man-made or otherwise, has been towards thinner winter ice packs.

But, since we're in a cycle of global cooling, it’s possible that we’ve seen the lowest levels of sea ice in the Arctic regions for at least a generation, maybe longer. Only time will tell.

Based on predictions, it’s likely that the lowest sea ice level will be somewhere near 1.87 million square miles by late 2008, .28 million square miles more than in 2007, and .13 million square miles more than in 2008. By 2010, we could easily see a lowest summer Arctic sea level exceed 2.05 million square miles.

Remember, the oceans take much longer to cool down during a cooler climate phase like this than the surrounding last masses.

The land temperatures peaked a decade ago in 1998 on a global scale. The oceans are taking at least a decade, possibly longer, for such a trend to develop worldwide.

As my friend, Robert Felix, points out in his book "Not By Fire, But By Ice," when the land begins to rapidly cool at the same time the oceans remain unusually warm, that often spells more SNOW, just like the all-time record 172.9 inches of the white stuff which fell in Coeur d’Alene this past "winter to beat all winters" in 2007-08.

When these heavy snows do not fully melt in the summer months, as was the case this season in parts of the Inland Northwest, glaciers normally begin EXPANDING.

After a period of several snowy winters in-a-row, in the Northern Hemisphere in particular, and a series of cooler than normal summers, a new ‘Little Ice Age’ (or worse) may arrive on the global climate scene, often in less than a decade.

As Mr. Felix warns;

"Living in the north could be hazardous to your health!"

He adds;

"The next ice age could begin any day! Next week, next month, next year...it’s not the question of ‘IF,’ just ‘WHEN’ it will happen.

According to Felix;

"One day you’ll wake up — or won’t wake up, rather — buried beneath nine stories of snow, as the bitter climate of Greenland descends on the U.S., Canada, northern Europe, including Great Britain, and much of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere — practically overnight. It’s all part of a dependable, predictable, natural cycle that returns ‘like clockwork’ every 11,500 years."

Yes, Jim, the last GREAT ICE AGE occurred exactly 11,500 years ago. So, we should be prepared. The chances of a ‘Little Ice Age’ arriving soon are even higher, at least 40 percent between now and 2025. Stay tuned.