Summer Arctic Sea Ice Gone by 2040
Arctic sea ice retreat is likely to accelerate so rapidly that the Arctic Ocean could become nearly devoid of ice during summertime as early as 2040. This is 40 years earlier than previously thought. “If nothing is done to curb man-made emissions of greenhouse gases the Arctic Basin, from Siberia and Greenland to Canada and Alaska, could be open water in summer within the lifetime of today's children.” Such abrupt loss of ice in a gradually warming world is due to positive feedback from the open water which absorbs more sunlight than more highly reflective ice, thus further hastening Arctic sea ice melting [search]. Results will vary from the local including the loss of many Arctic indigeneous peoples [search] and their way of life, extinction of the polar bear [search]; and globally lead to more climate change through disruption of the North Atlantic current [search] that brings mild winters to Britain, or a more rapid loss of the Greenland ice sheet [search].The findings are part of the fourth assessment of the International Panel on Climate Change due next year, and were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. I believe this is a harbinger of abrupt climate change whose impacts fall beyond the present worst case scientific scenarios.