Thanks to the acceleration in global warming, the Arctic Ocean will lose its ice cover in the next 30 years, says a new study, and not in 100 years as scientists had predicted earlier.
New research suggests the Arctic Ocean is already edging towards this grim reality, as the ice cover during summers could shrink to a mere million square km from the existing 4.6 million sq km.
So much more open water could be a boon for shipping and for oil and mineral extraction from the seabed. But the flip side is it could trigger upheaval of the ecosystem.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 assessed the potential effect of global warming on the Arctic, based on results from more than a dozen global climate models.
Now two researchers have reasoned that dramatic declines in ice by the end of summer in 2007 and 2008 called for a different approach.
Out of the 23 models now available, Muyin Wang, University of Washington (UW) climate scientist, and James Overland, oceanographer at Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle, based their new projections on the six most suited for assessing sea ice to come up with the scary scenario.
Scientists reckon that ice will still be found along northern Canada and Greenland where powerful winds sweeping across the Arctic Ocean force ice layers to slide on top of each other, making for a very thick ice cover, said a UW release.
These findings were published in the Friday edition of the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters.