The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a disturbing animation today. It looks at the decline of perennial Arctic sea ice—the stuff that survives the regular summer melts—over the last three decades. The old ice (white) is supposed to move around, but it's not supposed to dissolve like a cone of soft-serve in a tanning bed.

As you can tell from the video, perennial ice melt accelerated rapidly around 2007, and total sea ice reached a record low in 2012. Even though perennial ice increased over the last couple of years, NOAA predicts it'll continue to disappear. Some scientists say that the Arctic summer could be nearly ice-free by as early as 2020 or 2030. No one really knows for certain.

Melting perennial sea ice means bad news for walruses and polar bears. On the other hand, the decline of old sea ice could contribute to more plankton blooms, which means more fish food. Disappearing sea ice is also good for shipping routes and Arctic drillers who want to stake their claims up north. Those same drilling activities could devastate a sensitive and isolated ecosystem, release large volumes of black carbon and methane, and push the global climate into crisis mode.

During last night's State of the Union speech, President Obama praised climate scientists at NOAA and pledged to lead international efforts in combating climate change. The Arctic holds 22 percent of the world's untapped oil and gas resources, and new research shows that freeing fossil fuel resources in the region could help tip the scales toward dangerous increases in global temperature. But will the president take a stand against Arctic drilling? That has yet to be determined. Seattle, however, appears to be okay with housing an Arctic drilling fleet.