An ice free Arctic before 2040?

Date presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting suggests that Arctic sea ice is no longer recovering from the summer melt and that the ice pack may show very rapid losses in the near future. Calculations show that late summer in the Arctic will be ice-free by 2040 or earlier, well within a lifetime.

A study, by a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington and McGill University, found that the ice system could be being weakened to such a degree by global warming that it soon accelerates it’s own decline.

“As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice,” explained Dr Marike Holland.

Over the past 25 years Arctic ice has been reduced by 25 per cent and disappearing ice is already causing problems for the polar bear. Other wildlife such as seals and birds will also be greatly affected. For people in the Arctic and sub-arctic regions the absence of ice would bring a fundamental change to their way of life.

On a global scale the Earth will lose a major reflective surface and so absorb more solar energy, potentially accelerating climate changes across the world.

Isn’t it time for us to start reducing carbon emissions?