Arctic Summer Ice Melting Faster Than Previously Thought, Scientists

First Posted: Apr 12, 2013 07:24 PM EDT

By 2050 there will be no more Arctic summer sea ice, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced.

In an article published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, two federal government scientists working on climate change have made a case suggesting that the frozen packs lingering through the Northern Hemisphere summer are disappearing faster than previously thought, and it will have vanished in the next decade or two.

"Major sea ice loss could come within a decade or two," wrote James Overland and Muyin Wang in their paper. However, the scientists believe that some ice might remain here and there near Greenland and Canada's Arctic islands.

The researchers came at this gloomy conclusion after studying the results of three methods of predicting the sea-ice level trends in the Northern Ocean.

The study estimates that from 2020 to 2060 most ice will have melted away during the Northern Hemisphere's warmest months.

 "Results show very likely timing for future sea ice loss to the first half of the 21st century, with a possibility of major loss within a decade or two," Overland and Wang wrote in their article on climate change and the Arctic. "The large observed shifts in the current Arctic environment represent major indicators of regional and global climate change."

According to the researchers, the Northern Ocean has experienced increasingly high loss of thick, multi-year sea ice in the past 12 years, and the amount was less than half the average of 1979-2000 last September.

This study stacks up at the top of an ever-increasing pile of researches on the impact of Earth's raising temperatures. The year 2012 was one of the world's 10 warmest on record going back to 1880, the 36th consecutive year to exceed the 20th-century average of 57 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a separate NOAA report in January. In the US, 2012 revealed itself as the warmest in the records since 1895.

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