A scientist at the Centre for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec has reported that the Arctic could be free of summer sea ice by 2013 (Reuters).
In 2004, scientists from eight Arctic nations working on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, a study commissioned by the Arctic Council, found that the sea ice could disappear by 2100. And last winter, scientists claimed that the ice could completely melt within the next one or two decades.
But now, some researchers think the ice could melt much sooner. Warwick Vincent, the scientist from Laval University, remarked:
“2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction. But each year we’ve been wrong — each year we’re finding that it’s a little bit faster than expected.”
Earthsky, a website which features scientific podcasts, has two podcasts on the topic:
- From November 2007: A scientist at the National Ice and Snow Center in Boulder calls the disappearance of Arctic sea ice “a matter of if, not when.” Ice-Free Arctic Podcast
- From March 2008: A geobotanist at the University of Alaska claims that the Arctic is “greening,” with more shrubbery cover, due to the warming of both the land and the sea in the Arctic. Arctic Greening podcast.
A New York Times interactive graphic from 2007 displays the changes in the ice pack from 2003-2007. While the extent of the ice shrunk to its lowest recorded level ever in 2007, the ice pack actually grew in 2008. Furthermore, the National Snow Ice and Data Center in Boulder recently admitted that it had underestimated the size of the Artic sea ice by 193,000 square miles this year, an area the size of Spain.
Occurrences such as these give ammunition to global warming skeptics such as Jeff Jacoby, a columnist at the Boston Globe. He asks, “Where’s he global warming?” pointing out the unusually chilly winter that much of North America and Europe has suffered this year. Heavy snow blanketed much of the South, snowstorms shut down airports in London and Paris, and the canals in the Netherlands froze for the first time in years.
Yet it’s important to remember that global warming does not necessarily mean a constant escalation of temperatures. And overall, one cold year does not negate the overall warming trend the earth has experienced in the past several decades, as this video comparing Arctic sea ice coverage from 1975 to 2007 demonstrates.