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Climate scientists plan to expand data collection in polar regions

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced on Monday that more than 50 air watchdogs and observatories from more than 20 countries will cooperate on expanding data collection dramatically in the polar regions. Under the leadership of the Alfred Figner Foundation in the northern German city of Bremerhaven, the project aims to send more meteorological balloons and buoys to better ways of documenting rapid climate change in the North and South Poles and also to improve weather forecasts. "Temperatures in the Arctic and parts of Antarctica are twice as fast as the rest of the world, causing the melting of glaciers, shrinking sea ice and ice cover," said project head Thomas Jong of the World Meteorological Organization. "The impact of this is felt in other parts of the world - as is evident in rising sea levels and changing weather and climate patterns." There are enormous problems in the Arctic and Antarctica. The extent of sea ice was at its lowest level in January since measurements began in 1979, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in February. In the Arctic, the volume of sea ice was below its 1981-2010 average of 9% while in Antarctica it was 23% lower. As ice melts, activities in polar regions such as tourism, new shipping routes and raw material extraction are increasing, adding to the risk, according to the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

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