Late August 2012 the arctic polar sea ice was at its lowest record ever since NASA observations started and the archipelago was totally sea ice free. The Arctic Ocean sea ice cover had dropped by 50% compared to 1979. This allowed to reach 83 degree north with the ice class A vessel Ortelius in search of compact ice floes and polar bears which has never happened before!
Even worse is that the Arctic sea ice volume has dropped by 80%. A fundamental change is going on.