Arctic may be ice-free within 30 years


Arctic ice is melting at a record pace, suggesting the region may be ice-free during summer within 30 years.

Arctic ice is melting at a record pace, suggesting the region may be ice-free during summer within 30 years. Photograph: Alexandra Kobalenko/Getty

Sea ice in the Arctic is melting at a record pace this year, suggesting warming at the north pole is speeding up and a largely ice-free Arctic can be expected in summer months within 30 years.

The area of the Arctic ocean at least 15% covered in ice is this week about 8.5m sq kilometres – lower than the previous record low set in 2007 – according to satellite monitoring by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. In addition, new data from the University of Washington Polar Science Centre, shows that the thickness of Arctic ice this year is also the lowest on record.

In the past 10 days, the Arctic ocean has been losing as much as 150,000 square kilometres of sea a day, said Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC.

“The extent [of the ice cover] is going down, but it is also thinning. So a weather pattern that formerly would melt some ice, now gets rid of much more. There will be ups and downs, but we are on track to see an ice-free summer by 2030. It is an overall downward spiral.” …

The findings support a recent study in the journal Science that suggested water flowing from the Atlantic into the Arctic ocean is warmer today than at any time in the past 2,000 years and could be one of the explanations for the rapid sea ice melt now being observed. …

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