A study conducted by the Catlin Arctic Survey and WWF has concluded that Arctic Ocean sea ice is rapidly thinning. The accelerated meltdown could create an ice-free Arctic Ocean within a decade.
"With a larger part of the region now 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," explained Professor Wadhams of the University of Cambridge.
"The Survey data supports the new consensus view - based on seasonal variation of ice extent and thickness, changes in temperatures, winds and especially ice composition - that the Arctic will be ice-free in summer within about 20 years, and that much of the decrease will be happening within 10 years. That means you'll be able to treat the Arctic as if it were essentially an open sea in the summer and have transport across the Arctic Ocean."
Dr. Martin Sommerkorn of the WWF noted that the report's findings provided yet "another urgent call for action" from world leaders to curb global greenhouse emisssions.
"The Arctic sea ice holds a central position in our Earth's climate system. Take it out of the equation and we are left with a dramatically warmer world," warned Sommerkorn. "Such a loss of Arctic sea ice cover has recently been assessed to set in motion powerful climate feedbacks which will have an impact far beyond the Arctic itself – self perpetuating cycles, amplifying and accelerating the consequences of global warming."
He added that the meltdown could lead to flooding affecting one-quarter of the world's population, along with "extreme" global weather changes."