arts of the world, from the Alps to the Himalayas, and could push up sea levels in coming decades and centuries.
Snow buntings, which arrive from Siberia at the end of the winter, turned up about a week earlier than normal. Little auks also migrated to the islands early, residents say.
People have been little affected by the melt. The main business is a coal mine and food is imported from the Norwegian mainland to the south. Buildings are already built on high stilts to protect against any thaw of permafrost.
The Norwegian Polar Institute says that a melt of glaciers in western Svalbard, such as Longyearbyen glacier, has clearly accelerated in recent years.
Two climate activists studying the region stripped off to swimming costumes and sat on the ice by the fjord to highlight risks of climate change.
"If the climate keeps warming, the Arctic might be warm enough for swimming," said Rob Bell, in chill temperatures of about -5 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile in California, birds and animals have been washing up on shores from San Diego to San Francisco Bay.
In the past week, 40 birds have been taken to the International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro with symptoms of domoic acid poisoning, which attacks the brain and can cause seizures.
In previous seasons, the center might see seven birds a week, director Jay Holcomb said.
"I have been doing this work for 35 years and I have never seen anything like this as far as the number of species affected, other than an oil spill," Holcomb said Thursday.
Domoic acid is produced by microscopic algae. Birds and sea mammals ingest the acid by eating fish and shellfish who dine on the algae.
"In five years of study I have not seen a bloom this large at this particular time of year," Caron said. "It's having an extraordinary impact on pelicans and many other species."
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