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Simulating the climate with computer models, researchers
analyzed how global warming could affect sea-ice in the future.
The results, published in the Dec. 12 issue of Geophysical
Research Letters, indicate that if greenhouse gases continue
being released at their current rate, most of the Arctic basin
will be ice free in September by 2040.
Additionally, winter ice, now about 12 feet thick, will become
less than 3 feet thick.
The rapid meltdown, result of a warming globe, will itself accel-
erate the heating of the oceans, according to the latest study.
"As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the
Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further
accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of
more ice," said study lead author, Marika Holland, a scientists
"This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for
the entire Arctic region."
"We have already witnessed major losses in sea ice, but our
research suggests that the decrease over the next few decades
could be far more dramatic than anything that has happened
so far," Holland said.
"These changes are surprisingly rapid."