"It’s not a question of 'if' there will be nearly ice-free summers, but 'when,' say two NOAA scientists.
James Overland of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and Muyin Wang of the NOAA Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington, consider that the Arctic summers will be ice free before 2050 and possibly within the next decade or two.
The two scientists looked at three methods of predicting when the Arctic will be nearly ice free in the summer in a work that was published recently online in the American Geophysical Union publication Geophysical Research Letters.
According to their analysis report:
“Rapid Arctic sea ice loss is probably the most visible indicator of global climate change; it leads to shifts in ecosystems and economic access, and potentially impacts weather throughout the northern hemisphere,” said Overland. “Increased physical understanding of rapid Arctic climate shifts and improved models are needed that give a more detailed picture and timing of what to expect so we can better prepare and adapt to such changes. Early loss of Arctic sea ice gives immediacy to the issue of climate change.”
“There is no one perfect way to predict summer sea ice loss in the Arctic,” said Wang. “So we looked at three approaches that result in widely different dates, but all three suggest nearly sea ice-free summers in the Arctic before the middle of this century.”
Overland and Wang emphasized that the term 'nearly' ice free is important as some sea ice is expected to remain north of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland.