LONDON — The Arctic ice cap will disappear completely in summer months within 20 to 30 years, a polar research team said as they presented findings from an expedition led by adventurer Pen Hadow.
It is likely to be largely ice-free during the warmer months within a decade, the experts added.
Veteran polar explorer Hadow and two other Britons went out on the Arctic ice cap for 73 days during the northern spring, taking more than 6,000 measurements and observations of the sea ice.
The raw data they collected from March to May has been analysed, producing some stark predictions about the state of the ice cap.
“The summer ice cover will completely vanish in 20 to 30 years but in less than that it will have considerably retreated,” said Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the polar ocean physics group at Britain’s prestigious Cambridge University.
“In about 10 years, the Arctic ice will be considered as open sea.”
Starting off from northern Canada, Hadow, Martin Hartley and Ann Daniels skied over the ice cap to measure the thickness of the remaining ice, assessing its density and the depth of overlying snow, as well as taking weather and sea temperature readings.
Across their 450-kilometre (290 mile) route, the average thickness of the ice floes was 1.8 metres (six feet), while it was 4.8 metres when incorporating the compressed ridges of ice.
“An average thickness of 1.8 metres is typical of first year ice, which is more vulnerable in the summer. And the multi-year ice is shrinking back more rapidly,” said Wadhams.
“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.”
Doctor Martin Sommerkorn, senior climate change adviser for the World Wide Fund for Nature’s international Arctic programme, said the survey painted a sombre picture of the ice meltdown, which was happening “faster than we thought”.
“Remove the Arctic ice cap and we are left with a very different and much warmer world,” he said.
Loss of sea ice cover will “set in motion powerful climate feedbacks which will have an impact far beyond the Arctic itself,” he added.
“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.”
“Today’s findings provide yet another urgent call for action to world leaders ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in December to rapidly and effectively curb global greenhouse gas emissions.”
Sailing among the stars: Here’s how photons could revolutionize space flight
A few days from now, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Florida, carrying a satellite the size of a loaf of bread with nothing to power it but a huge polyester "solar sail."
It's been the stuff of scientists' dreams for decades but has only very recently become a reality.
The idea might sounds crazy: propelling a craft through the vacuum of space with no engine, no fuel, and no solar panels, but instead harnessing the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons -- in this case from our Sun.
The spacecraft to be launched on Monday, called LightSail 2, was developed by the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration which was co-founded by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980.
Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank
Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.
The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.
Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.
Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.
Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns
Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.
In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.
The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.
"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."