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A pair of studies out this week along with other recent evidence
suggests an observed meltdown of Arctic ice is snowballing into a
situation that could leave the North Pole ice-free during summer in
just a few decades.
A rapid annual retreat of ice is exposing the darker ocean, which
absorbs more of the sun's energy and fuels increased melting
"I'm not terribly optimistic about the future of the ice," said Mark
Serreze, a research professor at the University of Colorado at
Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
"As greenhouse gases continue to rise, the Arctic will continue to
lose its ice. You just can't argue with the physics."
Researchers aboard the vessel Maria S Merian just returned from
the Arctic and confirmed warming trends.
"Compared to last summer, the water that flows from the Norwegian
Sea [northward] to the Arctic has been an average 1.4 Fahrenheit
warmer this summer," said expedition leader Ursula Schauer of the
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.
"This is in addition to the last two years already having been warmer
than the previous 20 from which we have regular measurements."
A snowball effect is in place.
"Melting ice means more of the dark ocean is exposed, allowing it to
absorb more of the sun's energy, further increasing air temperatures,
ocean temperatures, and ice melt," said Ted Scambos, a scientist from
CU-Boulder. "It seems that this feedback, which is a major reason for
the pronounced effects of greenhouse warming in the Arctic, is really
starting to kick in."