CBS News World Watch has a story about the future of summer ice in the Arctic, along with a video.
Three scientists from Great Britain, together forming the Catlin Arctic Survey, will head to the North Pole at the end of the month. They will attempt to discern whether summer ice in the Arctic will cease to exist within the next five years, a sign which would point to major disturbances in the earth’s environment. The group will travel towing sledges for three months, covering 700 miles in 50-below weather – an endeavor which hearkens back to the days of Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton. Every ten centimeters, a radar strapped to a scientist’s backpack will send out a pulse that will provide information on the ice and snow below.
An ice-free Arctic in the summer would allow new shipping and fishing opportunities. On the other hand, as more and more ice disappears, temperatures in the area will increase even faster due to greater amount of dark, heat-absorbing ocean exposed to the sun — affecting everything from indigenous practices to Arctic marine ecosystems.