October 15, 2009

Arctic Summer Ice Could Disappear

A team of researchers report that the Arctic ice cap could be non-existent during the summer months 20 to 30 years from now.

Pen Hadow led the Catlin Arctic Survey team that explored the Arctic ice cap for 73 days.

The team took more than 6,000 measurements during March and May in order to reach their conclusions on the condition of the Arctic ice cap.

They traveled 290 miles, beginning in northern Canada, documenting ice thickness, density and depth.

Based on their observations, the team reported that the Arctic ice will become an open sea within 10 years and summer ice will disappear completely in the next 20 to 30 years.

"An average thickness of 1.8 meters is typical of first year ice, which is more vulnerable in the summer. And the multi-year ice is shrinking back more rapidly," Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the polar ocean physics group at Cambridge University, told AFP.

"It's a concrete example of global change in action."

"With a larger part of the region now in first year ice, it is clearly more vulnerable. The area is now more likely to become open water each summer, bringing forward the potential date when the summer sea ice will be completely gone."

"Remove the Arctic ice cap and we are left with a very different and much warmer world," said Doctor Martin Sommerkorn, senior climate change adviser for the World Wide Fund for Nature's international Arctic program.

"This could lead to flooding affecting one quarter of the world's population, substantial increases in greenhouse gas emission from massive carbon pools and extreme global weather changes."


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