Arctic ice cap melting 30 years ahead of forecast
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
The Arctic ice cap is melting much faster than expected and is now about 30 years ahead of predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.S. ice expert said on Tuesday.
This means the ocean at the top of the world could be free or nearly free of summer ice by 2020, three decades sooner than the global panel's gloomiest forecast of 2050.
No ice on the Arctic Ocean during summer would be a major spur to global warming, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Center in Colorado.
"Right now ... the Arctic helps keep the Earth cool," Scambos said in a telephone interview. "Without that Arctic ice, or with much less of it, the Earth will warm much faster."
That is because the ice reflects light and heat; when it is gone, the much darker land or sea will absorb more light and heat, making it more difficult for the planet to cool down, even in winter, he said.
Scambos and co-authors of the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, used satellite data and visual confirmation of Arctic ice to reach their conclusions, a far different picture than that obtained from computer models used by the scientists of the intergovernmental panel.
"The IPCC report was very careful, very thorough and cautious, so they erred on the side of what would certainly occur as opposed to what might occur," Scambos said in a telephone interview.
ICE-FREE SUMMER ? Read More >>>>>>